For a child, a summer day can seem to last forever. This is part of the beauty of a child’s perspective. At the same time, all of us, adult and child alike, sometimes freeze up and lose sense of the fact that we have a future that has not yet arrived. Here is a story of a child’s summer day in Brooklyn, New York.
When I was eight years old a truck housing a children’s ride, used to come around my neighborhood in Brooklyn. You paid your fee, had your ride, and upon exiting, you got some small thank you gift. When exiting the truck one time I got a large sheet of tattoos. I was ecstatic because there was one HUGE tattoo showing Davie Crockett killing a HUGE bear. I ran home to have the tattoo immediately applied to my bare chest, and I remember thinking how it was perfect that I did not yet have any hair on my chest because the hair would only get in the way of the tattoo. And then, as hard as this might be to believe, my father totally screwed up in applying the tattoo, and I was left with black water running down my chest, and then great big tears running down my face, as I was in a state of shock and disbelief. Feeling totally crushed I ran outside and dashed feverishly around the neighborhood hopinging to catch the truck, but it had mysteriously disappeared, perhaps already on its way to Flatbush or Coney Island. By the time the truck did come back again two weeks later, it was giving away some terribly boring small plastic whistles, and the truck never again showed up with tattoos, and in those days tattoos were not to be found in toy stores.
It can be so easy to freeze up and lose sense of the entirety of one’s life. It can be so easy to lose touch with the fact that we still have a future. As a child, especially during the summer time, each day was a grand adventure, and each day would often seem endless, and totally absorbing. This sense of fully being in the moment is one of the true gifts of childhood, and at times it can also be a liability. Because children usually have little sense of the length and breadth of their life, and any one moment can seem to extinguish the possibility of happiness in the future.
I can look back on numerous times in my life, that seemed to play a major role in determining the course of my life. In hindsight I can see that it was not the actual events that determined my future, but whether or not I perceived myself to be “lucky or unlucky”, “cursed or blessed”, “stupid or clever.”
Now I realize that each moment leads to another moment, each event leads to another event. I can choose which moments and events I want to give the most importance to, and which moments and events I will define my life by. By accepting the fact that much of what goes on in life is outside of my control, I can free myself to pay attention to the aspects of my life that I do have some ability to influence. And in times of difficult challenge I can give thanks for the future, knowing that even as day turns into night, and spring turns into summer, that my bad luck will turn into good luck, my sadness will turn to joy. Nothing stays the same.
If you look back at times that you initially thought were quite horrible or devastating, isn’t it true that most of these events, over the course of time, did not turn out to be nearly as devastating as you initially felt they were? Certainly this has been my experience.
By the way, I am still in the market for some Davey Crockett tattoos!