Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The best things in life

There are many things in life that provide us value and a sense of self-worth: the new job or promotion, the nice bonus check, the position of importance or status, the new house or car. All are good in their own context. The best things in life, though, are the littlest, simplest things.

Like walking our dog on a beautiful September evening on the wonderful trails in Lincoln. Charlie was just groomed, his coat trimmed and silky, his ears un-matted, his nails and paws perfectly cut, and a scarf tied around his neck. He was being good that night, not pulling on the leash, heeling next to me the entire time, automatically stopping to sit at intersections like we trained him. Fellow trail patrons wanted to know what kind of dog he was. Others commented or pointed out how cute or well-behaved he was. I was a proud dad that night.

Like having lunch with a great friend and mentor, Elaine, who has recently retired. I lovingly (and sometimes jokingly) refer to her as my second mom. She was a wonderful supporter as I made my way through student teaching. Then I was lucky enough to call her a colleague for almost seven years. Now we are both in different places in life: she still teaching but now in a different setting, me wondering if I'll ever return to the classroom.

Like being an uncle. I love all of my nieces and nephews. They each have unique characteristics, and it is fun to watch them grow from babies into little people and beyond. At each stage of life they discover something new about their world, no matter how simplistic it might be. Last week I spent a short amount of time with Katelyn. She is a little afraid of her uncle Todd. Stranger danger is part of growing up and she is at the age where she is incredibly wary of people she does not see on a regular basis. At first when she saw me she teared up a bit. But then later, as she got comfortable with the newest person in the room, she was OK. When she spotted my shoelaces, she came right over and began to unlace them.
Within seconds, not only were my shoes untied, but Katey was having the time of her life!
She was fascinated with the things. I couldn't believe her intense grip as I worried about whether I would be able to undo the knot she just created.
Katey then looked up and discovered that the leg, which was connected to the shoe, was all part of the scary man. She seemed to have forgotten. We became great friends.
I, Uncle Todd, was proud to be able to pick up and hold an amazingly curious, inquisitive, and somewhat cautious little girl!

Like having an impromptu get-together with friends at our house. Everyone brought their own food. We caught up, sharing the most recent events of the week. We grilled (including chicken nuggets). We enjoyed the company that goes along with great friendship, laughing, commiserating, and playing an exciting game of Hide and Seek with the kids in the backyard. 

Where do you place your focus in life?

I read a post on a great blog the other day posing that very question Foreground vs. Background - Life Refocused. Do we emphasize the foreground or background, or are the two merged together? Oftentimes our focus depends upon state of mind, the moment, our perspective, and even emphasis. So, what are your best things in life? Where is your focus?

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