Over the past 100 days, I have learned how to be. I have watched how I create the world that I see in front of me by being. If I am attentive, I notice things that I haven’t before. If I am grateful, life provides everything I need. If I am generous, everything flows back to me. If I am peaceful, I can find peace wherever I am. I also have discovered that if I am impatient, I feel hurried and traffic seems to find me. If I am angry, every encounter pushed my buttons.
Yesterday we went to the CNE. A once a year trip where my dad loves to treat us and take care of everything. In past years, I have looked at the CNE as a Vegas for kids (there’s even a casino on-site). I used to see it as a place of excess – unhealthy food, dangerous rides, just too much sensory stimulation. But we went every year because it became a tradition that the kids have looked forward to and I would “try” to have a good time but inevitably, I would have negative experiences and encounters that would taint the day.
This time was different. I arrived at the CNE with a sense of deep gratitude for it all. I am grateful for my father. Period. My mother was not a fan of the CNE and we never went. She said it was dirty and dangerous and the food was disgusting. I carried that with me. My dad has only associated joy and connection with family with the experience. I am grateful he has the opportunity to enjoy this with his grandkids and another chance with his own daughter to have this tradition. This has been an opening for us. I feel his love throughout. Love is love and happens when you are open to receiving it in the unlikeliest of places.
It has always been a place to spend time with family. Over the past few years, we have been able to enjoy it with friends and family. This time we spent the day with my cousin and his family. I am grateful that the kids have a close relationship with their cousins and look out for each other which is what I witnessed yesterday.
For the first time, I was open to the opportunity to be the experience I wanted to have. I was waiting in line for a ride with my #4 child. I didn’t plan to go with her on it because she was old enough to ride alone and she didn’t mind but I kept her company as she lined up. Just ahead of us, there were two sisters about to get on the ride. The youngest sister was too small and needed to ride with an adult but the mom had only bought ride passes for her kids. The little one was so disappointed as her mother took her hand explaining she was too little to ride with just her sister. Her sister was also disappointed to ride without her sister.
Now here I am with an all-day ride bracelet my dad bought for me so I would be able to accompany my kids if they were too short to ride alone. It turns out my kids have all grown this year and don’t actually need me for most of the rides.
I see the scene unfold in front of me and see myself in the mother and see the two sisters as my own children. I step forward and offer to ride with the little girl. The little girl brightens up and takes my hand and leads me on to the ride. #4 is happy I am on the ride too although she reminds me that it’s ok that I don’t sit with her. But the bigger sister then sits besides my daughter so that they can ride together. They have a great time behind us while I sit in front with the little one. She squeezes my hand as if to say thank you and tells me she’s scared. And I say, “That’s why I am here.” She squeals in delight as we go up and down and I try not to be overwhelmed with nausea.
And thus began my day of riding with random children on rides that my children were going on. As I waited in line with my own kids, not to ride of course but to keep them company, there would always be a little one that couldn’t ride because they weren’t tall enough and the parent just couldn’t go with them for various reasons. One little girl opened up that her daddy was the one who would ride with her but he couldn’t make it that day and her mom couldn’t ride because she had to take care of someone in the wheelchair. And again I said, “That’s why I am here.”
I am not telling this story to give a shout out to myself. I am telling it because it completely changed my experience of this crowded and noisy place. It became this beautiful way for me to be helpful and generous and grateful. I kept thinking, “How can I serve today? What can I do to help?”
Sometimes it was a sincere thank you to the ride operators, making eye contact and asking how they are doing. It was acknowledging the people selling food with a smile and a patient kindness when my food took a little longer to make because of the volume. I tell my kids we have two choices. We can either be helpful or hurtful. There is no neutral. It really is an either or choice. It can be done right here and right now and the greatest part of it is that we get to make another choice each time.
Being comes before anything else. The striving comes in remembering to be what I want to experience.
What if my little gesture changed the way someone’s moment, day, year or world is viewed? Did I add a little hope and faith and goodness?
And it all begins in those 3 words:
Be the change.
100 scribbles…hurriedly writing the here and now.