Like most buildings today, our library has doors that automatically open and close. When questioned about their purpose by my oldest son, I explained that some people may not be able to open a door by themselves, and that there are many disabilities that affect humans physically. By having automatic doors, we can make sure that every person can easily enter the library to enjoy all it has to offer, just as we do most every weekend.
“The person who thought of these doors is amazing!” was the response I received from Miles.
His simple sentence gave me pause; although I’ve recognized the benefit of such a feature, I’d never considered its value.
A child sees value in everything. To Miles, the idea that a person might not be able to enter the library of their own volition was concerning. To know that someone else in this world had recognized this, and made it possible for all people to enter places, was not just amazing to him – it was inspiring to me. How busy have I been, that I’ve failed to recognize and appreciate the value in things as simple as automatic doors? When did we, as adults, become so focused on the destination that we’ve lost sight of the journey? Of the beauty, the ingenuity, the persistence, of the world around us?
From one of my absolute favorite stories:
As we were leaving the library one afternoon, Miles stood in front of the doors so they’d open then moved to the side, essentially “holding” the door for a few people who were entering. When he was thanked by one of the library patrons, his response was simply, “It’s what I do! You’re welcome!”
“It’s what I do.”
This was another moment that just a few words from a child gave me a deeper insight to our lives.
What if we lived a life of silence, and the only measure of our existence would be through our actions? What would our actions say about us? What would people know of our joys, our passions, our causes, our beliefs, our faith? No ability to explain, to revise, to edit the narrative. Just your life, exactly how you lived it, as your personal statement.
Our children are incredibly focused on the people around them, especially those closest. They are bright, intuitive, and eager to learn. We are well aware of how they listen to each word we say, as those phrases are often parroted back to us at the most opportune times. When Miles “held” the door for the library patrons, it was a reminder to me that our children are also watching us with the same curiosity and desire to follow and model our behavior. When they see us hold a door, they do the same. When they notice you giving someone a hug or a pat on the back for encouragement, they’ll remember they can do that as well. When you help someone in need, they’ll be watching. When you work hard to find a solution to a problem, they’ll notice. When you work even harder to show unconditional love and grace to those around you, no matter their background, your children will understand they can do that, too. When you express gratitude and thankfulness for even the simplest things in life, they’ll continue doing the same.
“It’s what I do.”
Let us all live a life inspired by our children to seek value and meaning in the simplest things, and reminds us to venture off the path, keeping our sense of wonder and curiosity sharp. Let us also live a life that inspires our next generation of world changers to act intentionally with a desire to help, to be agents of change, to make our planet a better place, and to come from a place of love, grace, mercy, and understanding. Let them live a life that inspires the generation that follows, too.
It’s what we (can) do.
BRB, off to change the world!