I was walking to the convenience store the other day. The kids wanted to take the long route. So, we did. I love these little moments. As we were walking, and I'm not even sure how the topic came up, we started talking about time and our plans and I thought it was a good time to discuss with them how everything is vying for your time and attention. And it's up to us to choose what stays and what goes.
I uninstalled some games on my phone today, and I think that's how the conversation started. They saw me do it and we had talked about it. I was talking to them about how everything takes up a slot in life. Time sleeping is time that can't be spent working, time working is time that can't be spent with family - must be totally focused on the tasks at hand. Time spent playing or resting is time that you can't mix with work. Spending money on one thing means you now don't have that resource to spend on others. Time, money, effort, energy, etc.
We also talked about how the same is true with choices you make. My son was touching literally EVERYTHING on our walk. With the recent hurricane, there was a powerline in a tree that was being depressed more than before, and there was a wire on the ground that I don't recall seeing before near the sidewalk. So, naturally I yelled for him to stop and then had him look up and see how things connect and see the potential danger. There's a cost to going through life without seeing the dangers, but there's also a cost to looking around and seeing nothing but the dangers.
And that's where my thoughts centered for the rest of our walking conversation.
The thing is, innocence exists with a lack of knowledge about the world around you. But it's cousin is naivety. It's always a sad thing to realize when a child's innocence is gone. But to remain that way would come at the cost of wisdom. Wisdom is born out of experiences, guided or not, where we learn and grow from hardships and struggles. It's dangerous and often sad. It costs us our innocence. But remaining in innocence costs us our wisdom. Finding the balance between them is what's important to understand.
Later in the walk, my son walked across a roadway. He realized that a car was coming. This car was quite a ways off, and at his current pace he was safe to keep moving across to the next side walk, but he froze. He wanted to see what the car would do and he wanted to determine if it was a danger. However, it was his stopping and pausing that actually put him in danger.
I started to explain to him that if he had just had his head on a swivel while keeping moving forward, he would have been fine. It was the stopping that cost him his safety. See, even doing nothing. Sure, moving in the wrong direction or moving into danger has an obvious cost. But there's a cost to doing nothing as well.
I talked with them about life and emotions. Time spent being sad, tired and occupied by our lack and weighed down costs us any energetic move toward progress on our hopes and dreams. Time spent stopping and taking inventory of that costs us the time activity could be made. But also, activity without reflection is blind, bullish grinding onward. Movement needs reflection to guide it and reflection needs movement to keep the information flowing. So, son, don't stop walking while you're in the middle of the street to assess if the car will hit you because you may cause that very thing by doing that. Keep moving, take in that information, reflect on where you are and adjust your pace to get safe.
I feel like that's an important lesson in my life that's been a difficult one to learn over the years. Everything has a cost. Even doing nothing costs something to do it. So, find the balance in all.
There's a famous quote by Lao Tzu:
"If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present."
In a way he's right and wrong. We don't need to LIVE in the past, but we need to reflect on it and visit it because in it lies the information that guides our movements for the better. We don't need to LIVE in the future worrying about every turn and whether it's the right one to take and plotting and planning for every move or the time for movement and opportunity will be lost. But we need to consider it, or it's the same as walking without looking ahead to where you are going.
Live in the present because it's perfectly balanced between the two. But living in the present without a reflection on your past or a plan for your future is destined to be chaos.
So, balance in all things. And remember that everything has a cost.