August 4, 2014

Life Lessons From A 3 Foot Sock Monkey

What can a 3 ft. sock monkey teach us about life? You might be surprised!

It was a moment that will remain forever frozen in time. We walked into the resale shop (an annual tradition with my 2 granddaughters while here visiting after camp ends,) and Abby, 13, headed straight for the designer clothes section to look for deals. Sydney, 11, bee-lined, as always, to the doll section. I meandered somewhere in between not quite sure where to go. Then it happened. As I turned a corner I was stunned to see, wrapped in the arms of the wide eyed Sydney, a 3 feet tall, red, sock monkey.

Behind the sock monkey I saw something that fascinated me. Something I hadn't  realized until that moment that I missed so desperately - sheer delight. As Sydney hugged and danced around with the monkey, eyes sparkling and begging all at the same time, "love at first sight" totally consuming her, the delight was almost overwhelming.

With suitcases already so stuffed that a flea would need reservations to get in, thoughts of where this monkey would fit, even if I wanted to buy it, tried to pry their way into my mind. Before their first toe had crossed the threshold, Sydney had launched into a proclamation of her undying love for said monkey and her willingness to part with no less than 5 of her old stuffed animals in order to secure this one - which I knew instantly would never happen.

A saner person might have been stronger at that moment. A saner person might have rationalized that it was merely infatuation instead of true love and would soon pass. A saner person might have actually taken time to consider how a 3 ft. sock monkey might be received back home, but I'm not a saner person. I'm a grandma! So heck yes that monkey left with us! As  I plunked down the cash however, I was not buying a monkey. I was buying the feeling that the 3 ft. monkey elicited from my granddaughter. I was buying sheer delight! I'm pretty sure, on my own, I would never have bought a red, 3 ft. monkey at any cost - but who can put a price on what anyone would pay for sheer delight? (Fortunately for me the monkey was a steal!)

While my children were young and living at home, sheer delight was common place. Just making the perfect grilled cheese sandwich or saying yes to a friend coming over to play "Ghostbusters' could elicit squeals of delight. I'm afraid I may have taken delight's magical  powers for granted. I may have assumed it was just a "childhood thing." I severely underestimated delight, it's allure, and it's power to make us do things we'd never do for any other reason. 

As we get older, delight gets squeezed out of the picture with more "serious" things. Important things. Things that responsible adults do - but at what cost? It isn't, as I imagined, a "childhood thing." This became evident as I witnessed it 3 more times that same weekend.

Two of those times happened as we delivered the "year older and much grown" granddaughters to the homes of their great grandparents. Each time a door swung opened, it was there again. The third time came when we stopped at the home of a cousin to drop off some pictures, news clippings, and other mementos of her loved ones. As she sorted through the collection, there it was again, delight, brought about by remembering.

None of these delightful episodes came about by extravagant means. Each were relatively simple, but each had the intoxicating rush that comes from bringing joy to another. Joy born of delight knows no boundaries. It has a habit of spilling over onto whoever else is around when it's unleashed.  The consequences are exhilarating and a bit addictive. It made me want to do more - to find ways to feel it again and again.

Life is serious business. There's so much that has to be done. So much that should be done. With all of that to consider, I think it's easy to lose sight of what could be done. I believe in the end, what could be done, might just end up mattering the most.

When was the last time you witnessed sheer delight? When was the last time you felt it? When was the last time you caused it? Might now be the perfect time?

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