When he was about 2 1/2, the Saturday before Easter Sunday, Natalie and I took Ben down to Gastonia to the Toys R Us. Now this was back in the days when Toys ‘R Us were more like a warehouse with long aisles, each one filled with toys. That day, we were letting Ben walk on his own in the store just a few feet head of us. But then, when he reached the end of an aisle before us, in a blink of an eye, he turned the corner and ran. It was obvious he’d seen something very exciting.
As it would turn out, it was a box of hand-sized bouncy, blue balls on an end-cap display a few aisles over.
And guess what?
They were on the bottom shelf – Right where Ben could reach them. So, Ben runs right up to it. Both hands plunge into the balls. Those hands emerged from the box, each loaded with a bright, blue, bouncy ball.
He looked at us. Smiled. Then threw both those balls down the long aisles…in opposite directions.
Boing. Boing. Boing. Down those warehouse-length aisles go those darned balls. Well, Natalie and I did what any embarrassed parents would’ve done. We started chasing after them. We didn’t want anyone to trip over them and get hurt. Natalie heads in one direction, me in the other, each with the hopes of getting those bouncy, blue balls before anyone bumbles into them.
The only problem with that strategy?
Well, it left Ben there with that box still filled with his amusing ammunition. Once Natalie and I corralled the first two balls, we looked back to discover Ben, again, fully loaded, bouncy, blue balls in both hands. I’m sure seeing Mommy and Daddy running around like madmen made him think it was all just a wonderful game.
So, what does he do?
That’s right. Two more balls – zing – go flying. This time, they went down the center aisle.
Now look, I remember that story so well because I can’t help but feel that there are times when the nature of our lives feels quite similar. Out of the blue, life takes a crazy turn and the next thing you know, you’re scrambling to contain the damage. Soon, it seems like all you’re doing is running.
A really dear friend said something to me the other day that made me think about that incident. She spoke words I think we’ve all heard and agree with. Speaking about the life, he said “It’s always something.”
And what she meant is that life is always presenting new challenges and obstacles. Just when you think things have calmed down, something else crops up.
If that doesn’t make sense right now to every one of us gathered here, I don’t quite know what would. After all, over the last several months, it seems as though our whole world has been turned upside down. Covid-19 arrived, zing, and our routines were upending. We were all running around like madmen, trying to adjust to our new normal.
And just as we were getting the hang of a life lived at social distance, long-simmering tensions boiled over, exploding into our living rooms, newsfeeds and social media. Another ball jettisoned with us left to catch up to it.
How often do our lives seem to entirely be us chasing the latest ball to be flung? One moment, things seem calm. The very next, ZING, a ball gets launched. Maybe when we’ve just about got our hands on that first one, ZING, another one gets thrown in a different direction.