This morning my daughter ended up, for no good reason, leaving the house to head off to school later than she should have. We live two blocks from the school so she rides her bike. The time caught me by surprise and I jumped up from where I was having my coffee while listening to the news and said, “Oh, Gerda, you have to go, you’re going to be late!” I grabbed her bag for her while she slipped on her shoes. As I was giving her a little peck on the way out the door, I said, “be quick but be careful.” To which she replied, “I always am.” To which I replied, “yes, but just when you think you’re always being careful, that’s when something’s going to happen.” She asked with a smile, “So, you want me to think I’m not safe?” Returning her smile, I paused and said, “yes.” Yes, dear little Gerda, I want you to think you’re not safe; because then you just might be…
There are a lot of adages that sort of encapsulate that conversation:
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin
“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.”
– J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
I see three commonalities at work here and that is they are imploring us to: 1) be mindful; 2) be aware; 3) be deliberate.
Let’s unpack each of them.
1) Be mindful. In the case of Gerda hurrying off to school, be mindful that no matter what you think, at any given moment if a car is turing a corner, it is always possible that they are going a little faster than they should be, or looking the other way for just a moment, or simply may not notice a little girl on her little bicycle. To Gerda, “just be mindful of that possibility.”
2) Be aware. By being mindful, then we can move to being aware. Again, in the case of Gerda, now that she is open to the possibility of an event like any of the above happening, she can watch differently than she would if she was not first being mindful. She can keep her senses open to notice if one of the scenarios, or something altogether different, is indeed unfolding.
3) Be deliberate. Being deliberate is all about doing your part to impact the world around you. Again, using Gerda as the example, if she is being deliberate in her own actions, she should be riding on the correct side of the street, riding on a sidewalk when there is one, and riding at a speed appropriate to her age level and the present conditions. All of this is ultimately up to her to put into practice once she is being mindful and being aware.
It’s not that I want to make her neurotic as she embarks on this little daily journey of independence. But, at the same time, if she is going to venture out on her own, even if it’s only two blocks from home, then it is time for her to learn these valuable tools to finding a meaningful life.
I should challenge myself to see how I’m doing at being mindful, being aware, and being deliberate in regards to all things. Yes, at first that may sound exhausting. But, if I’m not being mindful, aware, and deliberate, I might not end up being as effective as I hoped I’d be in making a positive difference in the world around me. On the other hand, if I practice this procedure often enough, it should become a natural occurrence in any given moment.
What is it in your little corner of the world that could benefit from you practicing being mindful, aware, and deliberate? The question is worth asking, and the answer to the question could end up being life-changing.
Getting back to Gerda and her ride to school, I guess I do want her to feel safe. Maybe I need to simply tell her, and remind myself, it’s okay to feel safe, as long as you are being mindful, aware, and deliberate.
Until next time,