Friday, April 11, 2008

Not Seeing the Big Circle Around Us

Yesterday my boys went to their first practice for the track team. My oldest ran up a steep hill three times with ease. The younger one kept smiling and running with enthusiasm. I was proud of their dedication.

At the end the coach called the team together. There must be more than 80 kids from 1st grade through middle school. He asked them to form a big circle and face in one direction. At first I didn’t notice my two boys in the middle with their backs to me. I was chatting and joking with a fellow parent. We both noticed them at the same time. As I don’t sugarcoat anything about my kids, I blurted out, “Oh my gosh, look at my kids!” We laughed. I tried to decide if I should go across the field and into the giant circle and make them stand like everyone else. They were listening to the coach. If I went out there, I would draw attention to them and create a scene.

How can you not notice when everyone else is doing something? As kids we’ve all stood in a circle for games. You feel the energy surrounding you. Everyone is looking at you. How could you possibly not notice?

When we came home I asked them about it. At first it was crowded so they stayed toward the front and everyone else must have moved. That was it.

Have you ever noticed other people oblivious to a situation?

I was tempted to give examples like someone eating while everyone else at the table waits to be served or someone talking on a cell phone in a quiet room, but this is not rudeness. It’s something else.

When my father was dying, the complications from his diabetes worsened over a couple of years. As I describe the situation, you know he is close to death. He was blind. His kidneys had failed and dialysis wasn’t working. Gigantic calcium deposits the size of baseballs were all over his body. He was missing parts of his fingers and toes to gangrene. Doctors came in to examine him because they had never seen someone so far along. Each of these conditions was a small battle. They developed over years and he survived each one. He would get through.

His sister is squeamish and came to the hospital. I changed his socks as a matter of course. She ran out of the room. Down at the end of the hall she cried and told me I had to know he was dying. I didn’t know, not really. There had been so many hospital visits and he was only 50 and I just kept taking care of him. It took someone to tell me directly before I saw it.

The bar moves slightly and you adjust. This continues to happen and you don’t realize how much things have changed. My boys made an adjustment to where they were standing and never realized the true situation. We all just keep plowing forward in life. It’s easy to say we should take stock of our situations and notice if things are different, but there’s no guarantee we will. That’s why we need other people to understand and help us join the circle.

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