JUST THINKING: Drawing circles outside the box

Just Thinking | Julie Stafford

I’m feeling a little like the axle in a wheel lately.

Probably because my kids are spinning around me on great adventures, expanding their horizons and their perspectives and their inventories of life experience — sometimes coming home just long enough to change clothes or the contents of their suitcases.

The thing I can’t get over is how much more worldly they are than I ever was.

Take my youngest daughter, who returned recently from a weeklong sleep-away camp. I went to the same camp when I was her age, but stayed glommed to my best friend from home, wallowing in homesickness and together we tried as hard as we could to keep strangers and new adventures at bay. Emma couldn’t wait to meet new girls and to try new sports like sailing and paddle boarding and archery.

My son this summer has walked in to sport camps on his own, several neighborhood jobs and now the Work Camp based in Greenville — all the while looking for how he can become the best team player and the most helpful contributor to the overall good. When I was his age, I’m pretty sure my sole focus was me. Except for an occasional teenage blip, his sole focus is on how he can be an important part of changing the world.

And then there’s my oldest daughter, who just yesterday returned from a 16-day trip to India where she worked to help a school of blind students understand the world in a little different way.

From talking to her, I’m thinking the greater lesson likely was learned on my daughter’s side. She also helped plant trees and lived for five days as part of an Indian family and village, to hopefully broaden their perspectives of what it means to be a conscientious American. I don’t think I — at 17 or maybe even today — would have had the guts to do what she did.

With the exception of a school trip or two and a few forays into new adventures for the sake of writing a story here or there, I’ve lived a fairly safe life, all neat and tidy in a square box. My kids are part of the generation that I believe will turn the scheme of things around in this world and help focus our sights on a common direction.

Watching these young souls constantly stretch their boundaries and challenge their beliefs has inspired me to go outside of my square little box and maybe, just maybe, draw a circle or two.

Leave a Comment