A few weeks ago, we were invited by friends to visit a children’s farm, not far from my friend’s home. I’m not sure who was more excited, JJ or myself – I love farms, and had had no idea that there was such a big, beautiful farm open to the public that was so nearby. Actually, scrap that. I suspect David was the most excited of all of us, considering that his dream of seeing a “real kangaroo” was about to be realised.
Despite being in Australia for years now, David has continually lucked out of seeing kangaroos, koalas and virtually every other iconic Australian animal you can think of. In fact, the only time we’ve actually managed to be within visual range of an Australian animal was during an overnight interstate drive, where I narrowly missed hitting a large grey roo at 100kmph. David was fast asleep.
JJ was most excited about seeing a real goat. When he visits relatives, he is allowed to play Goat Simulator (don’t get me started), and has developed a bit of a goat obsession. We were assured there would be plenty of goats and kangaroos at the farm. Everyone was happy.
Roos and goats aside, I wasn’t expecting to come away from our trip with a new sense of purpose. I’d never thought there could be emotionally gratifying lessons learned from pony rides. My son’s actions and reactions taught me a little more about myself, and about humanity. These days we place so much emphasis on self-reliance that it was easy for me to feel guilty for admiring my neighbours beautiful home, or envying a friend’s grace, instead of allowing those feelings to encourage me to strive for more within myself. It’s too easy to get caught in a loop of debilitating self-loathing, disguised to youself as humility. Well, it’s easy for me.
JJ fed the lambs and baby goats.
He cuddled the guinea pigs, which are really just a lot like big, chubby rats when you think about it.
Then came the ponies.
JJ flat out refused to ride, which was not entirely unexpected. Each time I have taken him to any kind of event with pony rides, he’s said no, once or twice at the very last minute. He’s been terrified of the idea all his life and honestly, I didn’t believe he would ever get up and ride a horse, something that I found a little sad considering my early equine love affair and the joy I found in the saddle.
The friends that had invited us have a 5 year old daughter and a little boy who is still toddling. I suspect JJ changed his mind about riding by watching not only his five year old friend, but also her tiny brother cling to the backs of the little black and white ponies with triumphant smiles glued on their little faces.
And finally, there it was.
Gosh, I was proud. He fought his fear and got up there anyway – and he loved it. He loved it so much, he asked to go again.
It sounds cliched, but I learned something from my son that day. I learned that it’s okay to be inspired to challenge yourself, especially when that challenge is scary! You don’t have to do it alone. It took watching a younger child doing the same thing and admiring his courage to inspire JJ to do it too. That’s a part of human nature.
There’s no reason to be ashamed at admiring the courage, grace or success of another, if you allow it to inspire you to become braver, more graceful, and successful yourself.
I think we sometimes collectively forget that we were born to live in community, encouraging each other to live our dreams proudly and without reserve. From now on, I won’t beat myself up so much when I find myself borderline-envious of others – I’ll let their joy inspire my own.