When I saw her walk in I quickly scanned the room for some age-appropriate toys that I hoped might have a shot at entertaining her for the hour or so she would have to wait. I didn't see anything that even remotely resembled something that a three year old would want to play with. I was just guessing that she was three. Maybe a little older or a little younger.
I've sat in meetings before in which children were unable to sit still or keep quiet for longer than a minute. It is very distracting and it can be difficult to stay focused. I don't blame the children or their parents. It have a hard time myself.
Once we all had our seats at the table, it just so happened that she was she seated directly to my left. As we began to introduce ourselves, her mother took out a notebook, turned to a clean page and handed her daughter a pen. She had come prepared. I had not. To be quite honest, I am usually the person in meetings that has the hardest time focusing and keeping still. I fidget. I doodle. I lean forward. I lean backward. And, I too, make sure I have a notebook, a clean page and something to write with. I guess I'm a lot like a three year old.
The meeting began. I couldn't help but notice that this little girl knew how to hold a pen. Something that is not common for someone her age.
Oooh! This was going to be fun!
She made a mark in her notebook. I made a mark in mine. And so it went. For the next hour. There were times when I varied my marks. Which basically means, I would draw a scribbly dooble and she would try to do the same.
At one point during the meeting I had to leave the room to assist with some other business. When I returned, I noticed that she had crayons. That's when we began to have some real fun. She would hand me one and I would make a mark. She would hand me another. And I would make another mark, slightly different than the one before.
And her giggle.
Adorable beyond words. Each time she did, her eyes would light up and everyone in the room would turn to her and smile. I promise, I was paying attention to what the adults were saying. A little bit.
Usually I am happy when meetings are over, simply for the fact that I have a hard time keeping still. Not this time. Well, I guess I didn't keep still. But I was fully engaged. That is, with the beautiful spirit that was seated next to me. She waved good bye when she left. I don't know when I will see her again or if she'll even remember me.
As I look back on that magical hour I try to think what it taught me. To be more specific, I try to think about mistakes I may have made going on or coming out. And at first, nothing came to mind. But then it hit me.
Too often in life we think we can plan beautiful moments. We go to great lengths in hopes that these moments will bring us the joy and happiness that we so desperately crave. And then something unexpected happens. Our trips don't go as planned. Someone gets sick or what seemed like such a great idea ends up bombing.
But what I learned last week was that, if we just sit back and allow ourselves to be open. Beautiful moments come to us. For me, it came in the form of a giggling-scribbling three-year old princess. I will never stop trying to plan for or make beautiful moments. But from now on I will try to leave a little more room for the unexpected.
As I travel on this journey called Life, I continue to learn from the mistakes I make along the way. That's okay. I'm doing the best I can. And that's good enough for me.
The sooner we start sharing our imperfections with the people we serve and the people we love, the sooner they will stop expecting to be perfect.
Click the link below to listen to some absolutely horrible mistakes made by some absolutely wonderful people.