Dandelions…and a cloud of dust

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

   When I was younger, I remember listening to my Mom read us the above poem, while we sat around the kitchen table for one of our homeschool “table time” sessions. Back then, I didn’t realize the value behind these morning lessons.

Now in my 30’s, I have a much better appreciation for the love, time, and sacrifice my parents made as they raised their family. They didn’t raise us by sticking us in front of a television, or shipping us off to a public school; letting a stranger ‘educate’ us. Rather, they took their own time and life to help teach us the important things about life, how the world worked, and instructing us with tools that would one day help us be successful individuals.

We learned how to type properly, use computers, ask questions, and discover things for ourselves – often through many hours spent at public libraries. Our curiosity was encouraged, which led each of their children to have very different pursuits/occupations than the other 5.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to have a family, as well as how I hope to raise ours when the time comes.

   “If you can buy it with money, it’s worth nothing. If you can buy it with time, effort, and commitment, it’s worth everything.”

Truth is hard to come by these days. It seems like everybody has their own interpretation of what it means to be correct, without any understanding of what it means to be fair, just, loving, or kind. Ask a person how they spend their hours, and you’ll get a pretty good understanding of how they respond to situations like social injustice, racial equality, health, and care for the plane[t] we live in.

I have a great deal of respect for people who create, explore difficult concepts, and are willing to ask the hard questions. Often, these people know what it means to get out of their own way in order to find the truth, live by it, and speak it when appropriate.

That being said, there’s a lot more truth found in Dr. Seuss books than in any news program I’ve watched in the last 20 years. Calvin and Hobbes is a close second…

You’re never going to agree with somebody fully. There will always be opposing viewpoints and perspectives that go far beyond your understanding. However, if you distill things down to the concept shown in For the Want of a Nail, and see people as people, first, you’ll have a much better chance of learning, loving, and finding agreement with those you encounter.

If I had to rewrite the tale, it might go something like this…

   For the want to be right, an argument was lost
For the want of an argument, a conversation was lost

   For the want of conversation, a relationship was lost
   For the want of a relationship, a romance was lost
   For the want of a romance, a marriage was lost
   For the want of a marriage, a child was lost 
   For the want of a child, the future was lost
   All for the want to be right

   Relationships teach you a lot. That’s an understatement. A counselor of mine used to tell me “we can’t grow without relationship, Aaron.”

Healthy relationships involve two people, as well as a ‘third’ entity that can’t exist without either party; the relationship, itself. One of the best pieces of advice I received this year was concerning relationship communication.

   “What do you want? What do they want? Finally, what does the relationship want?”

That mind set has helped me evaluate many conversations I’ve had in both my personal relationship, as well as platonic relationships with others. Most of the time when I see opposing sides, the root of conflict isn’t because one person is right/the other wrong, but that both people want to feel safe, secure, loved, and wanted. 

Sit down with somebody long enough and you’ll eventually find something about them you don’t like, or agree with. Sometimes you don’t even make it to the point of having a conversation, because you’ve been written off before you’ve had a chance to open your mouth. People with tattoos know this truth all too well…

Most of the time, people don’t speak what they want/feel right away, because they don’t feel safe to do so. The all-too-common “how are you doing” is usually followed by a copy/paste “Great. How are you?” response, because vulnerability and authenticity isn’t commonplace in a world where so many walls are put up to protect the people on the inside.

I’m a 32 year-old man, who often feels like a little kid on the inside. Not because I want to play with toys and romp around the playground (though I wish I could sometimes….) but because my core spirit sincerely wishes that he could be seen as he is; a person, with a heart, smile, and emotions that have gone through many maelstroms as time has gone by.

That little boy wants to feel safe, secure, loved, and embraced. Sometimes he storms off on his motorcycle, or says things he doesn’t mean to the one[s] he loves dearly. It’s not because he has hatred, but because he has hurt that he’s dealing with and doesn’t always know how to show it.

Beneath the leather jacket, tattoos, and strong exterior is a small boy holding a  bouquet of dandelions for the one he loves – hoping, and wishing, that she sees the flowers in his weeds.

I think we all have a little child inside of us, hoping that others will want to play and be friendly. I know I do. The best way to connect with the ‘inner child’ of others is to be kind, compassionate, and caring.

Wouldn’t it feel wonderful to be accepted as you are, without any judgement?

You have a seat at the table – and you get many more of them when you open yours to others, too.

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