I know I promised you, and my thousands upon thousands of readers from across the globe a Part Two on my Waze blog, but you will have to wait a bit longer. What I wanted to address on this warm summer evening was not one, heck, not even two, but three profound life lessons I recently learned from my three year old son, whom I affectionately refer to as "The Dude." Sometimes I ask him if I can call him "Little Buddy," but he gets upset and says no, I want you to call me "Dude." So Dude it is. Anyways, we were in the middle of our road trip from Denver to Cleveland, and we were stopped for lunch at the Indianapolis JCC mini cafeteria. The food was exceptional, and I thoroughly enjoyed my quesadillas. But as you know, this is not a food blog, so we will just leave it at that. Anyways as my wife was doing my baby's diaper, and everyone was finishing up in the bathroom, my oldest son, who we will call "Little Buddy" was looking at the indoor swimming pool. You see, the door was set up such that about four feet up, was a window, looking into the indoor pool. As Little Buddy was looking in there, the Dude, also was looking in. But he was very upset, since he couldn't see in the window-- he was too short. He told me, "Tatty, pick me up, I can't see!" Being in an unpleasant mood as a result of driving for the last 12 hours, I told him he aint' missing much, and not to worry about it. But the Dude persisted, and I lifted him up so he could see what was going on beyond the door. When I put him down, I myself squatted down to his level, and looked ahead, and lo and behold, I just saw a blue door. No window, and certainly, no indoor swimming pool. I then stood up, and saw through that magical window a whole new world, totally invisible to The Dude. This experience taught me not one, heck, not even two-- but three deep life lessons:
1) Empathize- It is critical in any relationship-- be it a parent-child, husband-wife, or peer-peer to be able to empathize with someone and to see things from their point of view. The Talmud teaches in Pirkei Avos, Ethics of our Fathers, that a person cannot judge their fellow until they arrive in their place. It was easy for me to judge The Dude and to be annoyed at him for kvetching from my point of view, 6.12 feet above the ground. But if I were him, 3 feet off the ground- unable to see the excitement beyond, while everyone else was enjoying the views, I might also very well be a little more than upset. It was only when I bent down to see the view from his vantage point that I well understood the meaning behind one of my favorite bitmojis: The struggle is real. We need to be able to see things from different vantage points--doing so will make us better spouses, better parents, and better people.
2) Be Happy with What You Have-- Cuz' You Might not be Missing Much
Another point that I learned from this exchange with The Dude, was that G-d gives us everything we need at any given time, and we shouldn't be longing for more. We are not missing out on anything. You see dearest Henry, The Dude thought that he was missing out on something special. But the reality was, that beyond those doors, the only thing that was going on was folks swimming laps, or doing water aerobics to help with their arthritis. Honestly, it is a tremendous achievement, and a very important thing when human beings are able to get out, and exercise-- it truly is a beautiful thing. But after life guarding for over five years during my high school and college years, I can confirm that watching them do their water aerobics in the indoor pool is about as interesting as watching the paint on the door leading to the indoor pool. You see, The Dude, in his slight immaturity at age three missed this point-- he figured that if Little Buddy was looking into the indoor pool, and had access to something he didn't, that he was missing out on something deep and profound. The reality is, however, that he was just as well off watching that bulky door leading to the indoor pool. We should be happy with the situations in which we find ourselves-- and not be jealous of others who "appear" to have more than us-- since in reality they are simply watching people floating on noodles.
3) Don't use Tunnel Vision-- its a Grand Universe out there
To take a different angle, however, sometimes it is easy for us to feel stifled, as we can only see the world from our perspective, with our limited vision. We just see a door-- we don't realize that beyond the door is a whole new world. There lies a pool, that is very deep, filled with water. But we can't perceive it, and that can be frustrating. If we look up though, we see the window, and understand there is more to the picture than we are seeing from our human perspectives. There is a plan, a bigger picture. I also came to this realization one day as I was walking in Manhattan. As one walks the streets, and looks to his left and right, he sees, in addition to dog feces on the sidewalks and heaps of garbage, countless shops, stores and restaurants. But then if he looks up he realizes there is so much more-- the shops he sees at street level are simply but one floor of 100 floor structures. It is literally just the tip of the iceberg. In life, we need to look up-- to understand that there is a much larger picture, of which we have the privilege of being a distinct part.
Looking back at this amazing road trip with my family, during which we spent forty hours of car time together, we felt American and Patriotic as we crossed the Mississippi, we lip-synced to songs using a Red Bull and baby bottle as a microphone, we spent wonderful time with family, and we were able to say thank you in person to the heroic doctors who helped treat our baby, there is no doubt that one of the highlights was gleaning deep wisdom from my three year old Dude.