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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Things that amaze me most...Part III

As I told you before, there are a number of things/events/emotions that absolutely blow-my-mind because they are so introspectively amazing and give me a deeper sense of awe. So I made a list of the things that amaze me most... some big, some small, some acts, some things... but all, in my mind, amazing.  So far:

Part III: THE YOUNG: Babies, toddlers and teens

Oh, it isn't that the older aren't amazing... sometimes they are amazing heros, leaders, role models, parents, children, friends, lovers and spouses... sometimes they are all of those rolled into one. And yes, sometimes they are amazing jerks and worse... but everyone, from perhaps mid-teens on,  has already benefitted in almost all of life's learning and are into the next phase. 

The young, however... now that's a different story. They learn everything from scratch and surprise us with new stuff, sometimes when we least expect it.

At the Boeing Museum of Flight in Seattle there is a full size mockup of an F/A-18 fighter. A ramp allows visitors to climb into the cockpit and get a sense of what the pilot sees and feels. A guide at the top of the ramp points out the various controls and gauges in the cockpit and gives information about the aircraft's capabilities to each visitor who gets in. When my two-year-old son sat down in the plane, he seemed fascinated by all he saw and heard. Then, he looked out at us and said, "Dad, could I have a quarter?"

As babies they are miraculous and incredibly cute. They fill us with love and awe. They are totally dependent as they learn life's most basic lessons. As they grow, they are innocent, charming, witty, naive, goofy and sometimes, impishly impossible. In their later stages they are relatively new and even more naive to the grown-up world, but they still live on the 'up' side of the learning curve and continue to share in its delights. It's almost all discovery from birth to then. That's what is so amazing to observe.

Coming home from his Little League game Billy swung open the front door very excited. Unable to attend the game, his father immediately wanted to know what happened. "So, how did you do son?" he asked.
     "You'll never believe it!" Billy said. "I was responsible for the winning run!"
     "Really? How'd you do that?"
     "I dropped the ball."

We all started from a single sperm and egg... much smaller than a grain of sand... and grew with fingers and toes and giant eyeballs and livers and onions... well, maybe not onions, but hearts and lungs and bones and... now get this... BRAINS... which lead to understanding, reason and common sense-- learning's tools and results. Yeah... really though, sometimes you wonder. But see, that is the less keen stage... from young adults to old farts to death.

When we moved cross-country, my wife and I decided to drive both of our cars. Nathan, our 
eight-year-old, worriedly asked, "How will we keep from getting separated?"
     "We'll drive slowly so that one car can follow the other," I reassured him.
     "Yeah, but what if we DO get separated?" he persisted.
     "Well, then I guess we'll never see each other again," I quipped.
     "Okay," he said. "I'm riding with Mom."

The process of learning is the remarkable thing... that precious time before anyone feels they know everything... maybe around the mid to later teen years. There you see the instinctive trust and simple respect that comes implicit to parents, teachers, siblings, relatives, friends, life experiences, etc. From infant to that point where growth in knowledge crests the hill, the young progress with all the speed, cuteness, clumsiness, misconception-filled ideas and mixed messages that they absorb every second of their younger lives. As they grow in wisdom, they grow physically and emotionally, still dependent on those that bring them along. Maybe that's why there are so many dog and cat lovers, because these creatures never grow beyond that level.

A mother was preparing pancakes for her sons, Kevin, 5, and Ryan, 3. The boys began to argue over who would get the first pancake. Their mother saw the opportunity for a moral lesson. "If Jesus were sitting here, He would say, 'Let my brother have the first pancake. I can wait.'" Kevin turned to his younger brother and said, "Ryan, you be Jesus."

As the young become more worldly, they become more people of the world that we, their mentors, share. Its all a good deal and a great ride.

A mother and her young son returned from the grocery store and began putting away the groceries. The boy opened the box of animal crackers and spread them all over the table. "What are you doing?" his mother asked. "The box says not to eat them if the seal is broken" the boy explained. "I'm looking for the seal."

Take it from a grandfather of 15 with another on the way, how can you not be amazed at the young? 

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