Skip to main content

Shaping the human tree

When I was roughly six years old, my father took me to track and field day at the college where he was teaching. There were events taking place all over the field: the high jump, the long jump, throwing activities and some assortment of gymnastic events. Surrounding all of these was a giant ring of dirt where runners were warming up for different track competitions. My father needed to do something for the day’s events so he found me a seat where I was to stay until he returned. From where I sat in the stands, I could see the runners getting prepared—their legs stretching, muscles rippling and faces grim with the determination to win.

It wasn’t long before my dad was back with couple glasses of water for us to drink. It wasn’t the cold soda I was hoping for but it quenched our thirst just the same. As the day wore on, I became convinced that I could hold my own against these college runners. They seemed to be taking quite a bit of time to cover what seemed a relatively short distance. I begged my father to let me compete. Diplomatically, my dad tried to talk me out of it but I had already spent the morning observing the competition: they had already run a few races and I was fresh—there was just no way I could lose.

Seeing there was no way to convince me, my dad went down to the field and talked to one of the men organizing the event. They pointed at me as the other man smiled and my father obviously tried to downplay my athletic abilities. After what seemed an eternity, my dad came back with the gentleman who asked my name and age. I told him and he asked which race I would be running in. “Any race they don’t mind losing badly,” I said with a big grin. The man looked at my father and then gave me a big smile.

“Alright young man,” he said shaking my hand, “follow me and we’ll get you in the next race.” The man led me across the field to a line of runners setting up at various starting blocks. “Pick a lane and try to stay in it until the finish line,” was the gentleman’s final remark as he headed back to his station shaking his head in sorrow for the other runners. I picked my lane and prepared my entire body for speed…

There are pivotal moments where one’s growth is shaped. Some events in life will nurture while others prune for more drastically guided evolution. Ultimately, it is through these defining moments that we grow into the adults we’re one day to become. Most will point to a harsh or traumatic event as such a pivotal moment. The reason I speak of this now is because the following moment in my life shaped my growth in the most gentle of ways—it wasn’t until recently that I became aware of its influence.

When the starter pistol fired, I became a blur of arms and legs. I was moving faster than I’ve ever run before. I was so far ahead that there was no one coming up behind me. I wasn’t running, I was flying. After crossing the finish line, I joined the other runners at the judging booth to see just how much faster than everyone else I really was. After a short while, one of the judges called me over to his table and whispered, “your father’s calling you.” I looked in the direction he pointed and saw my father motioning for me to come join him.

The crowd was laughing at something that must have just happened on the field but I was too excited to tell my dad about my run to care. Smiling from ear to ear, my dad patted me on the back and said, “You ran a good race man! I didn’t know you could run like that. Why don’t we get some orange soda to celebrate?” As we headed for the concession stand, they announced the winners from my race. I never did hear them call my name but it didn’t matter.

It wasn’t until recently when my son began to show me things he had done when I realized my father taught me how to truly appreciate a child’s view of the world. There are pivotal moments when one’s growth is shaped. Almost thirty years ago, my father helped shape my growth with a bottle of orange soda and a loving smile.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

An affair of convenience

I have a confession to make. I’ve been having an affair now for the past several years. I've known her since we were kids but grew distant in high school. It wasn't until many years later when standing in line at the DMV that I bumped into her again. Having her with me in that line reminded me how much I enjoyed her company. We saw each other quite regularly after that until I met my wife a few years later. During the first year of my marriage, I couldn't maintain the affair but would often wonder if I'd ever see her again. It wasn’t until the second year with my wife that I started to rekindle the affair and found that things would go better at home after each encounter. When my son was born, of course, there were a few months when I didn’t make the effort to keep up the affair and lost touch with her entirely. These were dark days of stress and unhappiness. Eventually, I started sneaking her into the house and became less frantic. Looking back, it's a wonder I

A Little About A Lot

A Little About A Lot by Nabih Saliba To know a lot about a little Or a little about a lot Is a thing we should consider But in practice often not Know a lot about a little And it’s one thing that you’ve got But your view might be quite narrow Like a cage for every thought Fill your head with many subjects Then an expert you are not As your knowledge can be shallow When a little about a lot Should you aim to be an expert? Try to master just one thing? Then you’d have yourself a focused Special kind of offering. Do you wish to only sample? Try to gather wide but thin? Then when details are required You’ll just offer up a grin. Maybe what one should consider Isn’t what they know or not But what they know together With the friends that they have got For together we are smarter Sharing fact and view and thought On a lot about a little Or a little about a lot

Connection

Connection By Nabih Saliba To reach out in the darkness and think that we’re alone Is very often scary and chills us to the bone Yet in a world of sorrow, deep despair and solitude One simple thing connects us be it clothed or in the nude: That thing which makes us human, the quiet spark that we call life It’s the hope that we keep burning when we’re faced with pain and strife So in our isolation there is something we condone A flicker in the shadow, a thing remembered and well known It’s always all around us–far away and in our home Each friendship, love and partner that we dare to call our own Our lives are short and simple in the larger scheme of things And yet we waste time flirting with all that hatred brings Rise up and shout, “I’ve had it! I will play this game no more!” Then pull back on the curtains and unlock your brave heart’s door To build a real connection with another human soul Could be no truer purpose, or a mission or a goal For w