Sunday, January 17, 2016

January 17, 2016: Life Lessons

Picture of Ben and his Uncle Jason on my shattered phone
I dropped my cell phone today. I have done this many times. But today it shattered.

And the culprit for my carelessness? I was trying to take a selfie while hiking.

Fail.

My first phone call post-hike was to my middle son, Ben. For years I have scolded him for having a phone with a broken screen in his possession. This was more often the case than him having a nice, unbroken screen. I have often lectured him on the need for using a durable phone cover and the merits of ‘being careful’. Common statements from me to Ben…

"Don’t text on the trampoline in the rain" or "Don’t put your phone in your athletic shorts pocket while attempting a basketball slam-dunk."

Today it was me, not Ben, making the call from a completely shattered phone. Ben’s phone is beautifully intact and has been for months. But just as I have asked of my own kids, I had to own my failing. And then I complimented Ben on his good efforts.

Later during the day, Ben and I exchanged texts during the Broncos game. Although difficult to read, I was able to make out the interchange on my jumbled screen.
___________________________________________________________
Ben: Watching the game?

Me: Yes. Not good.

Ben: Hoping for the best.

Me: Shaquil is playing.

Ben: I’m watching.

Me: I’m still mad that I shattered my phone.

Ben: Live & learn.

Me: Life lessons.
____________________________________________________________
Life lessons. One of my favorite subjects to discuss with my boys through the years. Typical conversations would include statements like “I know this has been hard for you, but a good life lesson” or “Sometimes the best lessons in life are from the failings while living it”.

Then they would typically look at me like I had three heads. No one wants to be dealt a bad hand and then be told ‘it was a good lesson’. But in the end, this reflection isn’t a bad thing.

On this same hike today with our failed selfie, Garrett and I had a great conversation on life lessons as they relate to our children. Living in a bubble with the goal of avoiding adversity is a bad thing. Dealing with the adversity ultimately builds character and helps our kids live life to its fullest and know how to better deal with similar adversity in the future.

Part of being human is being dealt a bad hand of cards. This will likely happen countless times in our lifetime. It is inevitable. Unfortunately, adversity seemingly hits more on some than to others. But knowing how to best deal with it and move forward, positively and as a better person, is the key.

The unfortunate phone drop today turned the table on me. Instead of me being the lecturer to my kids, I was the one looking in the mirror. I also had to own that this life lesson extended beyond a dropped phone. I have been spending months beating myself up over mistakes in judgement. Wrong people, wrong choices, misguided trust. All part of life.

And then my forever hero, Mother Teresa, smiled at me yet again. A very impactful quote came across my news feed in a very timely fashion. Reiteration to what had been filling my mind through the course of the day.

“Some people come in your life as blessings. Some come in your life as lessons.” ~ Mother Teresa

This time, I am dealing with my own life lessons. It is good for all of us to reflect on the blessings and lessons in our life, regardless of our age.

My values haven’t changed. My belief in what is good in the world and the means to correcting the wrong hasn’t changed either. But rather than beating myself up on past decisions, I need to use them as lessons. Lessons to guide my future decision-making and alignments.

Quite frankly, some life lessons are actually very apparent after-the-fact.

Case in point: Two fifty-year-old's should not attempt a selfie on a foothill with gloved hands in 30-degree weather. There is a high probability of a fail.

I get it. And yes, Ben, I will ‘live & learn’. As I stare at pictures on my shattered phone, I am also reminded of advice from my very insightful mother.

My mom always said 'you can't ruin art'. My kids took art lessons over the years and when little Ben would get frustrated with what he felt was a mess-up, his grandma would guide him through a little added stroke or block of color to complete his artwork. Grandma never alluded that any unplanned adds were part of a cover up, but instead, a work in process.

Just like the wrinkles on my face that have been earned over the years or the bum knee that was part of a bad twist of fate, each lesson and decision defines my future journey. The portrait.

Sometimes what appears to be brokenness or a mis-stroke can really be one stroke away from a great piece of art.

Thanks, Ben and Mom. Your advice is well taken.

Many, many blessings have been had. But there are just as many lessons to be learned for all ages. Art and life really are a work in progress.

Watching a Broncos win today.
Work-in-progress tomorrow.

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