When our kids were little, we went to a 4th of July neighborhood parade on Wood Avenue. People dressed in red, white, and blue; little ones with blue streamers and red stars poking out from their bicycles. No floats or funnel cakes. Just a bunch of people starting at one end of the tree-lined avenue and walking and biking to the other.
The houses are large and beautiful along Wood, reminding me of the fancy parts of the Northeast coast. I went with my sister, Andy, and the kids. I didn’t have any 4th of July decorations, so Lizzie’s trike had two purple streamers dangling from the handle bars, and Andrew weaved one through his bicycle wheel. We walked for a while, and when we were about at the halfway mark, I noticed a man – long, scraggly blondish hair under a baseball hat that read something about being a veteran. He was wearing baggy shorts and a t-shirt, and he rode on a very old bike. He pulled up next to me and said, “Do you know where the parade is?” I looked at him quizzically and thought for a moment. Then, I said, “You’re in it.” He responded, “Huh,” and went on his way. My sister and I looked at each other and laughed.
My kids are a lot older now. We haven’t been in a parade together for a while. I learned a lesson that day though – one that is told in plenty of old folktales. I remember spending a good deal of time looking around for what was right in front of me, trying to find the miracles in life somewhere else. In a “grass is greener” culture, this seems to be the norm. It took me a while to learn to start with what is in front of me first.
Change starts with accepting what is – not condoning or approving of it, but accepting it. From there, I can choose to respond in ways that are not only good for me but for the whole as well. If I keep looking for somewhere else, searching for the parade that I am already in, I have no ground to stand on. Accepting where I am is the ground from which I can take the first step – wherever that may lead.