Several years ago, Anne and I were in Rockledge, Florida, visiting one of our sons and his family. One afternoon we went to a local park where we launched rockets, ate a picnic lunch, played soccer, and threw a football around. As I sat on a bench, watching the kids play, and meditating, I looked up and noticed four buzzards flying overhead.
I watched these magnificent creatures with admiration and awe. They soared through the sky, using the wind currents first to take them higher and higher and then to gradually descend as they scoured the area for something to eat.
I thought how these birds had started as weak and helpless chicks, whose parents had to protect them until they had grown enough and were ready to be gently pushed out of the nest. I felt the parents’ relief as their babies flapped their wings for the first time and began to fly, an important milestone, but not the end of their training.
Little by little, the young birds learned the lessons and practiced the skills their parents taught them so they could survive life’s challenges. Nature ensured that their parents moved from guarding them while they were small, to helping them to grow stronger and more capable, until they were finally ready to move out into the world and succeed on their own.
As I watched the birds, I couldn’t help but think about my grandchildren and the lessons their parents were teaching them. None of us can save our children from all hardships or struggles, but we can teach them the simple but important life skills they need to meet their challenges and move forward in their own lives.
This past year has been particularly challenging for many of us, adults and kids alike, and there is undoubtedly still much uncertainty ahead. All of this means we will have many opportunities to stretch, try our best, and sometimes stumble. Anne and I call this “failing forward” or picking yourself up, learning from your falls, and becoming stronger in the process.
While it can be tempting to want to protect our kids from difficult experiences, we believe it’s better to find that balance between making life safe and comfortable and preparing them to face life’s challenges with courage and a resolve to fail forward.
Happy Failing Forward,
Calvert and Anne
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