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.

Change starts with accepting what is

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.

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