I am in pursuit of the simple life. I ache for it.
I caught a glimpse of it this week in my five year old daughter. She takes guitar lessons from a friend who also has a passion for seashells and coral. When lessons are finished (and sometimes before and during because they can’t contain themselves) their conversation turns to shells. He gave Ava a book to help her learn the different kinds and each week he brings a little treasure to reward her for practicing. She keeps them in an egg carton. A couple weeks back he gave her a small piece of cat’s paw coral. She adored it. Truly cherished it. So special, it didn’t go in the carton with the others. It found its home on a tray on the dresser.
But then on Tuesday when her teacher arrived, she greeted him with a bulging teal envelope. I had no idea what was going on. He opened it and found the piece of coral he had given her and a drawing she had made of the two of them playing guitars. At first I was embarrassed that she had “regifted” something to him. But then I realized what I was witnessing.
She had grasped something that I myself struggle to embrace. The simple life. And greater than that, the ability to hold with open palms, everything we think belongs to us. She had no sense of possessiveness. No need for entitlement. Here was her most prized possession being given away. It was such a beautiful act of kindness. She cared so deeply about her teacher and their shared interest, that she wanted to give him her greatest treasure.
She inherited this from David and I praise God for his example. He was always giving things away. Chances are if you find a black memorial bracelet on your wrist right now, you also have something that came from him…whether it be a pair of combat boots and a rucksack or a greater understanding of humility because of his legacy.
It struck me that I so easily focus on what I don’t have and hold with clenched fists that which I do. But if David’s death should have taught me one thing it’s that life is but a whisper. We are here one minute and gone the next. All that truly remains at the end of this life are the memories we make, the love we share and the inspiration we impart. As Ava reminded me, it is indeed better to give than to receive. And the heart that finds contentment is the heart that seeks to gain nothing in the process.
So I am in pursuit of the simple life. A distilling process that hopefully leaves me refined and whole. I want to be like my five year old…a collector of smiles.