The Bottom of the Slide

Growing old definitely ain’t easy. Gone is my mane of beautiful hair, which, on a windy day, would blow softly with the cool autumn wind. Carrying a few more pounds than I did in my youth, I know longer run gracefully like a gazelle, but rather, more like a freight train huffing and puffing as it tries to make its way up a large Colorado Mountain. But the toughest part of growing older, is, to be totally honest, that I am no longer in little league baseball, dominating my opponents with my sheer brilliant athletic prowess.

Fortunately for me, one of the greatest joys of fatherhood is that I am blessed to see my boys pick up where their old Pops left off. And as my eldest is batting 1000 after two games to open up the season, they are indeed picking up exactly where I left off, and it feels darn good.

It is now officially little league baseball season, which, between games and practice, means at least three days of baseball a week, which is tremendous.

So today as I embarked on the road with my youngest son in tow, along with my 3 year old princess who wanted to come along to play on the park, I had a little bounce in my step, and a smile etched across my beautiful, bearded, unmasked face– ( I am vaccinated, and was in the car with my own two children.)

When we got to the park, and my son was warming up, I turned my attention to my delicious three year old princess. I decided that I would disengage for at least an hour from my work and phone, and would just enjoy this blissful spring day in the greatest city this side of the Mediterranean. It was here that I learned not one, but two profound life lessons.

I started actively observing my daughter in a way that I don’t usually do. Usually, I am distracted, still involved in the goings on of the day. My body is in the park, but my mind is millions of miles away. Not today, though. I noticed that my daughter, who we will call Esti, loved a particular windy slide, but avoided the other two slides. Unfortunately for her though, some bigger kids were climbing up and down it, in a very obnoxious fashion. I encouraged her to go to one of the other two slides, but quickly observed that she was scared of them. With a little prodding she agreed to go, and I couldn’t help but notice the look of absolute euphoria and joy that was expressed across her precious little face when arriving to the bottom. I noticed the same expression each subsequent time she reached the bottom of the slide. I asked myself, when was the last time I ever had that look of joy on my face? When did I last go down the equivalent of a scary slide like that for me? And I realized that too often, as we grow up, we lose the innocent joy of childhood, and the ability to play, and do things that we truly enjoy. It is crucial that we do things we love, and that bring us this joy.

The second lesson I learned, is, to be honest, a lesson I have written about before, but can still be very challenging in practice. That is, that in today’s world, to be blunt, we miss out on the joys of life through the distraction of our devices. I had been on this playground, with this daughter, no less than five times in the last month. But today, when I mindfully decided to be undistracted by my phone, I felt like I was on a different planet. I took immense pleasure and joy in my little girl, in a way that I had not in months.

It served as a powerful reminder to opt in for life, and to not let it pass behind a shiny little screen.

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