WILSON: Basking in the light

These days, it might seem that our lives are filled with political tumult and social turmoil. It might seem that we are a nation divided, not by color of skin, but by color of party. It might seem that we live in a time when a wedge has been driven deep between two diametrically opposed points of view — with a middle ground nowhere in sight. However, there are powerful moments when the vivid light of joy and happiness can shatter the darkness of gloom and doom. This past weekend, I had the opportunity to bask in that light.

I traveled to Columbus, Ohio to visit my (almost) 4-year-old grandson and his (almost) 2-year-old sister — and, of course, their parents. What a party!

Setting aside the question of “nature vs. nurture,” my grandson, Dean, is absolutely his dad. He looks like his dad, has the questioning mind of his dad, and enjoys tip-toeing right up to the edge of established boundaries and exploring the possibilities waiting just beyond (much like his dad did at that age). I felt like I had stumbled back in time.

My granddaughter, Natalie, is the most beautiful child that God has ever placed on this Earth. Such a statement might seem just a little bit biased, but I am here to assure you, it is not. It is a whole lot biased – it also happens to be accurate. Her delightful giggle and big, beautiful eyes could melt the heart of even the sourest of curmudgeons (like her Papa).

David and Lauren (my son and daughter-in-law) have a very nice home with a huge kitchen. Within that huge kitchen is a proportionally huge island, around which, the primary functions of household life revolve. That kitchen island is their command center, play center, conversation center, family time together center, and it also doubles as a pretty good space to prepare and enjoy a delicious home-cooked meal.

I brought up the topic of the large kitchen island, not to go on about the size, but to help establish a mental picture of two little kids, racing at full speed, around and around said kitchen cabinetry. I sat at that island marveling at the speed those four little legs could travel, and the energy level those two imps could maintain. Because I am the type of person that I am, I quickly computed the length of one lap around the track (believe it or not, about 50 feet — I told ya’ it was huge). From that, I calculated that 106 times around the kitchen would add up to more than a mile of travel. I also estimated they were on their 832nd lap.

For a short time, I joined in the fun and raced around the track until I ran out of gas and had to pull into pit row. Even though one of my steps is equal to several of theirs, I still couldn’t keep up the pace. Little hands slipped into mine and little voices shouted out, “Papa. C’mon, let’s play.” It doesn’t get any better than that.

Eventually, they both slowed to a speed that matched mine. We read books, played with Legos, hid under a blanket fort, and laughed just because we could. It was great…and it was exhausting. Now, I remember why children’s bedtimes are so early. When they went to bed, I went to bed.

In the big picture — the one painted with our current social, civil, and political unrest — things might seem less than picturesque. But when one focuses down on the things in life that really matter — such as the peals of laughter coming from innocent and unbridled children — the truly important things become crystal clear. I am still basking in the afterglow of that visit and intend to recharge the light just as soon as I can. Remember to focus on what really matters — it is so much more fun.

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