This spring break we sent my four-year-old son to hang out with my family at the beach. We usually meet halfway, which made it convenient to pick up my father-in-law, George, and take him back with us to Memphis for the week.
I wasn’t sure what to expect. George recently had surgery and he would be enjoying time with me and my husband, and our youngest daughter, busy little Haddie.
George grew up in Alabama, raised his children in the Yellowhammer state, and he’s currently getting ready to retire there. One of the things that surprises me most about him is his approach and energy towards change and newness. Where anyone else might gravitate towards the familiar, George, at the young age of 65, seems to welcome the introduction of new food, places, and experiences.
I was his designated tour guide for most of his stay, and one day, to my utter amazement, he actually got in the car without even asking me where we were going; he was just along for the ride. While I carted him from place to place I could see his spirit lighten at each stop as he took in details and observed the world with wide eyes and a genuine heart.
When we sat down for lunch one day he told me “Well, this is the second meal I’ve had with cloth napkins!” And when he went with me to drop off my daughter at daycare he exclaimed, “I believe I’ve learned a lot this morning!”
Things I take for granted in my world were interesting to George, such as watching all the wide-eyed toddlers in Haddie’s class stare us down as we dropped of her off at school. When he sat down to watch Frozen with my daughter he inquired, “What’s wrong with the girl that’s freezing everyone?” (Really! It’s a valid question!) Places that seemed ordinary to me began to seem extraordinary through his eyes. He became tickled at the littlest observations. When he took his very first Uber ride, he watched in amazement as we tracked his car on the app and looked at me and smiled and said, “Hey, this could be a thing!”
And what I realized through George’s visit is we CHOOSE to resist OR embrace change (and I’m sure there’s a quote about that somewhere). When we embrace it we have an opportunity to experience newness and perspective. By embracing it we push aside doubts and make room to fill that space with energy and enthusiasm.
After a stop at the gas station George observes, “I’ll tell you what, if you can’t find yourself something to eat back there you just ain’t hungry.” I was so worried about the long lines for the restroom I didn’t even pay attention to the food selection.
I’d like to pass on the unexpected lesson George taught me during what we deemed as George’s Big Adventure.
May you embrace change in a world where it fills your heart with wonder, where you explore life recognizing the little things, are brightened by cloth napkins and gain energy just being along for the ride.