JouJou very recently has taken to riding her bike up and down the carpeted hallways of our condo building in BC's wine country, and since this is the first year that Birdie can actually walk, she sort of giddily squeals and chases behind her big sister in her distinctly diaper-clad waddle. However, the other day, JouJou went out into the hallway and left our condo door open, for Birdie to come out when she was ready. I watched as Birdie made the realization that JouJou had in fact left the suite on her bike, and I watched as she processed that she too wanted to leave the unit, and be in the vicinity of the big kid who was out in the hallway. She headed over to the door, which was wide open, and then she quickly stopped. She did not proceed, despite the fact that nothing was, at first glance, physically stopping her.
However, the door mat that sits at our entrance is made of sort of this grassy, sisal texture, and Birdie was in bare feet -- so to cross over it would mean a bit of short-term discomfort.
I watched her process this: I watched as the realization hit her that what she wanted was on the other side of the discomfort. And, in the moment, the symbolism was just too much for me – and is the reason I share this observation with you now.
How many times in our own lives, has the door been wide open – a standing invitation for us to simply walk through and embrace a new experience, to play at a bigger level -- but the thought of moving toward and through that little bit of discomfort ultimately stops us? The grassy sisal mat, can take many forms. Yet, most of the time, as soon as we approach it and tackle it, it vanishes. It’s no longer an issue. And in it’s place is a whole new reality – we have made it out of the condo and into the carpeted hallway where the big kids get to ride their bikes.
JouJou has a book that my cousin Dave bought her when she was just a little thing. It’s called “We’re going on a bear hunt”. In it, the writer, Michael Rosen, identifies a number of challenges that our protagonist faces along the way, throughout the duration of the epic journey. Deep mud, raging rivers, high grass. And in every instance, the refrain is the same: “We can’t go over it, we can’t go under it, oh no -- we have to go through it.” And such it is with the life we live above and beyond children’s literature, when it comes to life’s discomforts: We can’t go over it, we can’t go under it – oh no, we have to go through it.
I am recording this solocast on the eve of an important and exciting trip to Necker Island, Sir Richard Branson’s private estate in the British Virgin Islands, where I will spend the next week with 20 other social entrepreneurs – the Change Makers and Rule Breakers -- in an environment of positivity, leadership, and growth. To me, it’s my hallway, the place where the big kids get to ride their bikes. However, before I get there, I first must embrace the fear of the unknown. Because for as silly as it may seem – and let’s face it, so often our own versions of the grassy, sisal mats are indeed very silly when we acknowledge them – the unknown, the complete mystery of what the next seven days will have in store for me, has me in a state of mild frenzy. And yet, a week from now, I know I will look back with gratitude and a wealth of new memories and new friends, and I will laugh at the ludicrousness of it all.
So, tomorrow, I’ll be boarding a plane to Atlanta, and from there, one to San Juan, and from there one to Tortola, and from there, a small boat will zip me through the Caribbean Sea to Sir Richard Branson’s home island, where for one week, I will be surrounded by big kids on their bikes -- those people who know that when you want to get to the other side of life’s open doorways, you can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, oh no -- you’ve got to go through it.
As for Birdie, ultimately, as her mommy, I carried her over the grassy, sisal mat, and popped her out onto the other side. Which, when you’re only two years old, is in and of itself its own life lesson – which is… that sometimes we get by with a little help from our friends. But that’s a topic for another day.