Remembering back to my childhood, I reflected on arriving at the base of my favorite tree. I was ten years old looking up and squinting into the Texas sunshine. I smiled in complete anticipatory joy. The cottonwood tree was gloriously high, stretching up into the sky with its strong trunk as its base. The tree swayed in the breeze, beckoning me to climb into its numerous branches. With a book safely tucked under my arm, I succumbed to the tree’s gentle summons.
I remember leaping to grab hold of the bottom-most branches that were just out of my reach. Moving the book under my chin, I grasped the branch and pulled myself up. Climbing as high as the strongest branches would allow, I soon found myself swaying along with my beloved tree. I settled securely within its branches, marveling at how I could over-look the entire neighborhood. I eagerly escaped into the world within the covers of the book I held. Pondering this memory, I recalled the great peace that had enveloped me. There was such a thrill over having found quiet in the great outdoors of my parent’s backyard. With a contented sigh, I welcomed the moment of solace. Oh, how I relished the heights and vastness of my cottonwood tree!
The Impact of Remembering
Reflecting on this memory left me pondering the question: Why is this memory significant to me after all these years? Upon reflection, I realized this memory held secrets to who I uniquely was. It reminded me of the intentionality and zeal I embraced each day in order to seek out what was important to me.
For instance, at the mere age of ten, I found it important to seek out peace, contentment, and solace. This remains true of me today, as a grown adult. However, as life ebbs and flows, it has a way of daily changing and morphing into new dimensions and realities. Whereas a child, I had ample freedom to climb trees and enjoy a glorious amount of down-time; it is not as much of a reality in my adult life, given all of its responsibilities. I have found that it takes great intentionality within the routine of daily living to seek and find peace, contentment, and solace.
Intentionality is defined as something being done with intention or on purpose. If I want to enjoy more moments of peace, contentment, and solace then there has to be a sense of purpose to my daily living. Reflecting on personal experience, I have discovered what brings peace and contentment for me. It is then my choice and responsibility to carve out that intentional time daily for enjoying them. Letting go of any guilt associated with enjoying an activity that brings peace or contentment is also significant. Accepting that life is not all about working hard, attaining more, accomplishing the most, or even serving every need around me has been an essential understanding in letting go of guilt. It has guided me in finding the freedom to step into being me again.
Although I may not be able to amply climb a tall cottonwood tree any longer (but go ahead, find one and challenge me!), I can continue to embrace the joy that comes from escaping into a good book. Although it may require having to intentionally say no to something else, I have come to understand a new reality. If I say yes to everything, it communicates how I find everything to be absolutely important. Ultimately, that shares with those around me that I find everything important. Thus, I see nothing as important.
Saying yes to everything, spreading myself thin, and robbing myself of peace and contentment diminishes the impact I can have on those around me. It has been amazing to discover the depth of contentment found when becoming a person of my word. When I actually allow my yes to be yes, or my no to be no. Weighing options through the lens of intentionality has helped in finding, and making time for, that which is most important to soul-health. That is peace, contentment, and joy.
Allowing the memories to flow, I recalled how the rhythmic hollow sound of dribbling a basketball down the gymnasium court reverberated off the walls. Squeaks from the hurried steps of tennis shoes on the wooden floor resounded in my memory’s ear. As I reflected, I remembered turning to my teammate’s yell, only to meet the ball in the face. Broken glasses, bloody nose, and tears were what all unfolded next, through my recalled memories.
I was in seventh grade and this memory was from basketball try-outs. A self-conscious, incredibly mortified, and unconfident pre-teen filled my memory’s emotional recollection. As I continued to remember, I pondered how I eventually found a position as manager for the team, never finding my way of playing on the court again. Five years would pass before I would ever bravely take a ball in hand and dribble it down the court.
Fast forward through those five years to my senior year in high school. I found myself part of a church basketball team, as my heart’s desire had always been to be an athlete. However, opportunities, obstacles, and challenges had continued to get in the way of pursuing that heart’s desire. At seventeen, I was about to find out how dedication and talent don’t always necessarily match up. I would learn that to truly play the game of basketball, or any team sport, it is essential to have a general grasp and understanding of the actual game.
Fresh off the bench and out on the court, I was given the ball. Catching it, this time, I found it absolutely glorious to break away from the defense and race down the court. I was flying! I had no one on me and complete control of the ball! It was a euphoric moment as I went in for the lay-up. But wait, why was I hearing cheers from the crowd that sounded so incredibly desperate? Why wasn’t the cheering filled with enthusiasm and reassurance?
As the shouts and chants began to register in my ears, I began to decipher what was being yelled. My mind registered the panic in the crowd of yelling voices:
“Wrong way! Wrong way! Don’t shoot!”
To this day, when it comes to the game of basketball, I am labeled with the nickname, “Wrong Way”. It’s obvious how these memories resonate and stick with me in adulthood due to the hurt, pain, and embarrassment. However, as I continue to reflect, I have to also ask myself, “What did I learn?”
After that detrimental game of basketball, I recall sitting down with the guy I was dating and going over the finer details of the game of basketball. With great patience, he explained offense and defense to me. He taught me the differences between man to man vs zone defense. He walked me through positions, how to be a team player, and the sport overall. It required patience and listening on my part to learn the sport. It also required investment and a spirit of teachability.
Likewise, I have come to learn how remaining teachable in adulthood is a valuable asset. It requires patience to learn something new, yet necessitates a certain amount of yielding of pride. For instance, in this world where technology changes daily, software updates are the norm, and new apps are available hourly, it is in my best interest to remain teachable if I wish to remain afloat, relevant, and adept in today’s culture. To do so with grace requires a softness of heart, a dedication of the soul, and a teachability of the spirit.
Teachability may even require me to feign interest in order to remain relevant. So, just like I did with basketball, I will try and try again to glean understanding, learn something new, and yield in allowing the younger generation to teach me new things that are surfacing in this modern world. With an innate desire to make an impression on the rising generation, I also find it essential to yielding to the challenge of growing my mind.
Reflecting On Spontaneity
Continuing to remember significant memories and teachable moments from my childhood, there was the time when our family was vacationing off the Florida coast. My parents had rented a catamaran, and my dad was at the stern, guiding us through the calm waters of the Gulf. My sister and I sat at the bow, two young adolescent girls enjoying the opportunity to soak up the magnificent sunshine. The water was calm, the sky clear, and the mood serene.
All of a sudden, a collective gasp went through our family as we each laid our eyes on a pod of wild dolphins swimming by. They were not far from where our catamaran floated, and it seemed as if we could, with little effort, be a part of their pod.
Before I even had time to think, I was on my feet, jumping out of the boat and into the water. My focus was zeroed in on the dolphins. I knew exactly where I wanted to be and what I desired to experience. Swimming among those beautiful dolphins and being one with their pod was my goal.
I remember my mother shrieking as the catamaran rocked with my sudden jumping out into the warm, salty waters. Although I never made it out to be one with the group of wild dolphins, the euphoric joy usurped the disappointment of not achieving my end goal. I took a chance, seized the moment, and I recalled how glorious it felt to have made the effort.
Seize The Day
This memory brought conviction toward how easily, as an adult, I have replaced spontaneity with routine. Not to mention how often I exchange freedom to seize the day with grumbling and complaining. While I am a woman who believes in balance in all areas of life, my spirit has been moved to a deeper understanding of how some areas in my life are imbalanced. Recalling this moment of spontaneously jumping out for what I most wanted, brought understanding to how I could intentionally strive for that today, and in adulthood.
All things considered, I have begun to comprehend how I can intentionally make the dream of writing a part of my professional life. I can seize the moment, grab hold of opportunities, and bravely put my written compositions out into the world for all to see. This is me being bold and sharing my life. In doing so, may it serve its purpose to encourage others to live life with intentionality and zeal. May it invite each of us to continue remaining teachable. May we ultimately seize the day and the opportunity to fulfill each hope and dream.