My 4 year old son has been obsessed with the monkey bars for the past year. He has his favorite ones at “the school park” that are low to the ground and he can easily reach from the platforms. At first he’d just grab a hold of one rung and then drop down. But eventually he was reaching out to grab the next, then the next my bar, until he eventually made it all the way across. He practiced diligently and with fervor and dedication. It was all self motivated.
So, by now he is a monkey bar pro and even has some “tricks”. One day on a sunny evening at a new park with monkey bars that were higher than normal, he attempted one of his “tricks”, to jump out and grab the 2nd rung, instead of the first one. He shouted over to me, as I was watching the younger one play nearby, “Hey Mama! Watch this!” I watched in horror, as he jumped out to grab the 2nd rung and then his grip slipped and he landed flat on his back, in a thud, as the air was audibly knocked out of him.
I raced over and swept him up. The tears started to roll and big loud sobs. Once I realized he was not injured, my biggest fear was that this fall would cause him to lose the confidence he had built as an expert monkey-bar boy. As he started to catch his breath again, I hugged him closely and said, “you know, you are still really good at the monkey bars.” He replied, “I know, Mama.” The big fall did not shake his confidence in the slightest. He was still 100% sure of his ability, despite a major fall.
Since starting a new job, I have been fumbling a bit, falling down and making mistakes as I learn a new system and get my bearings. I really hate making mistakes. I really like being right and feeling 100% competent. But I have been leaning into this simple wisdom from a 4 year old, that falling down, is not failure. I love the simplicity of this lesson, and yet the challenge of living is always harder. So even though I may be stumbling and having missteps along this path, I can take comfort in my own strength and wisdom. And there is so much to be gained from challenges…especially if we embrace them for what they are, nothing more and nothing less.
Always grateful for the opportunities to learn and grow.