I love people-watching.
I find people absolutely fascinating, which I suppose is why I enjoy writing about them and why I chose to get my graduate degree in counseling.
This summer, my son and I have been spending our off days from the gym walking at the high school track and I am constantly intrigued by the people I see there.
***Today, there was an older couple (I would say they were in their 70s). Both were obviously in excellent shape. They each had the long, lean muscled look of runners. The husband alternated his time doing wind sprints, stretching, then finally doing several laps around the track. His wife had apparently recently suffered something akin to a stroke.
She circled the track while holding onto ski poles, her body leaning slightly toward one side. Her husband would periodically come alongside her and rub her back a couple of times while speaking what I am guessing were words of support. It was obvious that this effort took a lot out of her, but the determined look I saw on her face as we passed each other told me that she was willing to do the hard work it took to regain full health. Her spirit shone. Finally, once her workout was over, she headed slowly down the hill to the elementary school in the direction of the swings on the playground.
As I rounded the corner and saw her, a big smile broke across my face. This seventy-plus woman was swinging high and fast with a look of absolute joy on her face. Her body knew no limits on that swing; there was no evidence that there was anything wrong.
It was a reminder to me that a little child still lives inside all of us. Taking the time to enjoy a swing is a good way to tap into that part of us that still delights to play.
Eventually, her husband finished his workout, then made his way to his wife. She brought the swing to a stop, reached out for his hand, then the two of them walked hand-in-hand to their car together. Sweet.
***There are the high school football players who gather on the field around the track, full of testosterone and athletic grace, running play after play in anticipation of another winning season.
Big dreams live in a small town.
***Speaking of football, as we walked around the track one evening, a father and son arrived. The father looked like a former football player. He carried a ball, a towel, and a couple of waters. His son followed his dad at a distance, head hung low, shoulders stooped. His body language screamed, “I don’t want to be here!!!” The dad appeared utterly unfazed as he began to put his son through a workout. The son obediently followed his dad’s instruction, but it was clear his heart was not in it.
Our children are not extensions of us. They are their own people, with their unique hopes and dreams. Whose dream was being played out there?
***A teenage girl comes by herself nearly every day to practice lacrosse. She stretches, sprints, handles the ball and her stick over and over again, making it look effortless. She doesn’t appear aware of anyone else at the track. Her focus is absolutely laser-like.
I marvel, having never known that complete and total dedication to anything when I was a teenager. I admire her determination. How wonderful to have discovered a passion at such a young age.
***But my absolute favorite thing has been walking that track with my son (and sometimes my daughter joins us too). We have walked miles and miles, sometimes in the early morning but mostly at night as the sun slips slowly below the mountains, painting everything with a soft orange-pink glow.
I am a mom of two teenagers and I love that we can share so much laughter.
They ask me to tell them stories from my life and I can sometimes see the light dawn in their eyes as they get a glimpse of “Susan” and not just “Mom.”
I have been able to share honestly about some of the mistakes I have made…things I wish I had done differently. It is deeply humbling…but necessary in striving to keep the lines of communication open.
Forty-six year olds really do remember what it was like to be thirteen and fifteen. 🙂
I encourage them to stay physically fit all their lives and extol the many benefits of regular exercise, just like my dad did for me.
They sometimes laugh at my dorkiness but assure me that they love me anyway.
We share prayer requests, concerns, dreams, matters of the heart.
I know they don’t tell me everything…but I rest in the fact that their God, who created them and loves them more than I can conceive, knows it all and I pray for His protection and guidance over their sweet lives.
I have treasured these days with all my heart, knowing that in a few short years, they will most likely leave our small town to begin their own journey.
And I hope that long after I’m gone, Josh and Julia will remember this summer when we circled round and round the high school track , making memories and sharing laughter and lives.