|Posted on February 29, 2016 at 8:10 AM|
Years ago, early on a Sunday afternoon, I was walking across a parking lot when I noticed a family getting out of their car. They caught my eye because not only were they dressed up, but they almost looked like they were from another era. It was clear their clothing was very intentionally chosen. That is until the last member of the family came out from behind their vehicle. A little girl, maybe three or four years old, a bow in her neatly brushed hair, and wearing a simple pale colored dress and of all things; purple cowboy boots. Now, at this point I need to remind you, this family looked like they had been dressed for the set of Mad Men, down to the details. And yet, purple cowboy boots. Immediately I had this vision of a pair of black patent Mary Jane’s sitting on a dresser at home and the discussion that must have taken place before a weary sigh, an “oh well”, and a happy and victorious preschooler. Been there. Done that. One day I will tell you about our kid that wore a specific sweatshirt to...third grade, as in his third grade year.
As the father passed me I smiled and said, “Nice boots!” He simply shook his head and let out a soft groan. The little girl looked completely happy as she skipped along. And I thought to myself, “Well this is a Sunday they will remember.” And in that moment I understood that was the beauty of it. It was memorable because things hadn’t gone as planned. Things weren’t perfect. No they were better than perfectly planned. This tiny little person had made sure this would be a sweet story woven into their family history. This Sunday would not be forgotten among the blur of so many similar Sunday afternoons. No, this was now Purple Boot Sunday.
We have all had those moments in our lives. Those moments when we tried so hard to steer events and details towards perfection; celebrations and special dinners, careers, home remodels, and relationships. We have a vision for how things should look, how others should behave, where we should be in terms of marriage or career at certain times in our lives and we work hard to manifest and create them. And there’s not a thing in the world wrong with doing so.
But when we become so focused on creating one specific outcome, we are susceptible to missing other, possibly more joyous and fulfilling possibilities. We risk losing the opportunity to let days become unique instead of just another Thursday. When we become so rigid in our thinking that we don’t allow room for spontaneity and the unexpected, we can lose the funniest, sweetest moments because we don’t accommodate them. And we lose the joy and freedom that comes with making choices and allowing others to do the same. Yes, we need goals and plans, but we also need flexibility and an open heart. We need to be clear about what’s important and what is not. We need to let the other people in our lives have a say in the script that we are writing together day by day.
When I look back at the stories we tell and retell in our family, they are the purple cowboy boot stories. They are the times when things didn’t go as planned, and thus became memorable. An unexpected guest, a non-compliant child, a job loss, a burned dinner, a fender bender, all ways in which our plans took a turn, sometimes a U turn. And so what? In the scheme of things, so what? I remember sharing a story about one of the boy’s antics with a friend, laughing about it, and remarking that I hadn’t been laughing at the time it happened. And then I stopped and asked myself, “Why not?” If it was funny a week later, hadn’t it been funny at the time? Well of course it was, it just took a few days for me to see the humor. After that, I began looking for humor in the moment instead of waiting.
The other truth is that sometimes these stories are never funny, even a year later. But they are truth. They are our combined history. And they are over. And the only thing to do is accept. Accept that there were lessons learned. Accept that on some level, all involved did the best they could with the information and consciousness they had at the time. Accept and move on.
So for today, let’s offer no resistance to the purple cowboy boots that show up in our lives. In fact, let’s look for them, let’s make room for them, and then when we are lucky enough for them to show up, let’s celebrate and give gratitude for them. For in the end, the best options are to watch without judgement, accept without criticism, and trust with faith.