As adults, especially in the busy world we find ourselves, it is often easy to get so caught up in the "thick of thin things" (things that seem important in the moment but really aren't) that we fail to see the beauty of life around us. We set goals and we're dead set on reaching them, irregardless of anything or anyone around us. We're so determined to reach our destination that we fail to enjoy the journey along the way. Be honest, all of us have that challenge from time to time.
What is the antidote? In my case, I just needed to take a walk with my boy.
Journey to Health
I'm on a journey to better health. Just like I would for a journey on the road, I've mapped our my journey to health, setting goals and milestones. I've gone as far as breaking down the tasks that I need for each of the goals along that way that will help me reach my ultimate goal of losing 85 pounds. One of those tasks is walking two miles at least four times a week.
This morning, I didn't want to go. It seemed as if my body had become metallic and my mattress a giant magnet. However, I reminded myself of my goals and my overall desires to feel better physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually and forced myself out of bed.
Once dressed, I warmed up and stretched. When I finished, I noticed my son and two of my daughters were out on the patio. I opened the door and asked, "Any one want to go on a two mile walk?" Not surprisingly there were no takers.
I shut the door and grumbled something about wimpy kids.
My wonderful wife heard my grumbling and, as always, gave me some wise counsel.
"Maybe if you mark out a mile and only ask them to go that far you might get a better response."
I paused where I was, turned around and went back out to the patio. "Anyone want to go for a mile with me?"
"Sure Dad, I'll go," Blue (a nick name), said.
I was really happy.
"Okay buddy. I'm going to hurry and mark off half a mile down the road so you can go there and back with me to make a mile. I'll be right back."
I jumped in my Kia Sportage and marked out the distance.
When I returned he was ready and raring to go.
We live in a hilly, rural area of West Virginia. The picture below was taken in the fall. a couple of years ago. Imagine the same picture filled with all the greens and flowers of spring. This is the area where we go walking.
We started down the road and I started walking as fast as my not-so-skinny body will allow, determined to get to the half mile mark as quickly as possible.
"Do you think you can keep up with me buddy?" I asked.
"Sure Dad," Blue responded. Easier said than done given that I'm two feet taller than him and my legs are a good bit longer. Needless to say he was jogging as I walked.
That's when the lessons began.
"What kind of bird is that Dad?
"I'm not sure. I've got to keep walking."
"Dad, look at the trees."
"They're beautiful. Now lets keep going."
As we drew close to the pond, "Dad, I don't see the geese. Do you think there still around?"
"I don't know, I haven't seen them for days."
"I hope there still here. I hope we get to see the goslings."
"Me too. Now lets keep going."
I was determined to book it! Gotta get the heart rate up! Gotta be sweating to lose the weight, right?
"Dad, stop. There they are."
It was all I could do to stop. I was determined to keep going. Gotta reach that half-mile mark. Gotta keep up the speed. Gotta keep the sweat pouring out.
I did stop. The excitement in my little boy's voice broke through the "I gotta get there" barrier and reached my heart. There they were, the two parents with six fluffy goslings darting back and forth through the grass between them. I kicked myself for not bringing my phone to take pictures. We watched them, standing in awe of the new life that comes with every spring.
"Alright buddy. Let's go."
We moved on and just down the road there was a horse standing near the gate in a fenced field. Inspired by my son's excitement, I said "Hey, Blue, would you like to pick some grass and see if we can feed the horse?"
We picked the grass and approached the horse. It was a beautiful paint pony with large brown patches surrounded by white. She walked right over to us and stared with large brown eyes. She was more than happy to take the grass. What a thrill it was for my boy!
"She took it Dad," he said enthusiastically.
I patted the horse on her head and she allowed me to stroke her long next, all while she munched and crunched on the grass.
"Can I pet her Dad?"
"I don't know why not."
Cautiously he reach up a hand and "Lady," as we decided to call her, allowed him to rub the end of her soft muzzle.
"You're a good girl," he said.
"Okay, let's go buddy."
We pushed on and finally reached the half mile mark then started back the way we'd come.
We stopped and fed "Lady" again and then I was determined to get walk as quickly as I could to get back to the house so I could drop my boy off and start on my second mile.
As we neared the pond Blue asked, "Dad, can we stop at the pond to see if we can see any fish?"
"We stopped and saw the geese and goslings. We stopped and fed the horse--twice. We can look at the fish another time."
"Please Dad. Just for a minute." He looked up at me with his large, pleading blue eyes.
I gave in. I couldn't help myself. The little kid in me wanted to see if we could find any fish too.
"Oh okay. Let's go see what we can see."
"Dad, did you see that? Can you see the ripples? A fish just came up."
"I did see it. Hey look, what is that big gold looking thing in the middle?"
In that moment the "gold looking thing" jumped part way out of the water, swished it's tail, dropped back and took off.
"Wow, Dad! That fish was huge!"
"Thanks Dad for stopping by the pond."
"Your welcome. Let's head out now."
We arrived home, I dropped him off, and headed out for my second mile.
The Beauty of Life
The second mile was slower. I still raised my heart rate and I was dripping sweat by the time I finished. But, I thought of my boy and tried to see things through his eyes. In doing so, I saw, smelled, and heard the beauty of life. I saw the beautiful trees, lush green hills, and the rippling pond. I smelled that sweet breath of spring in the air. I heard the multitude of birds singing nature's concert. I was nourished by nature and for a few minutes, I felt the exuberance of childhood once again.
More important than all of this, however, is that I made a lasting memory with my boy. He's only seven now but time flies on wings of lightning and childhood does not return. Thank you Blue, for helping me remember that life is a beautiful journey, not just a destination.