INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Last Thursday, three of us from Lake Tahoe School spent a delightful evening at the Truckee Thursdays street fair. We had set up a table to share some information about our school and were happily chatting when a young couple and their four-year old daughter approached. While our admissions director spoke with the parents, I leaned down to make my acquaintance with the little girl.
“May I please have a balloon.”
“I’m sorry; we don’t have any balloons.”
“But I want a balloon!”
Glancing around I spied one of the fist sized rocks I had picked up by the railroad tracks when we needed something to anchor our school materials in the afternoon breeze.
“Would you like a rock?” I queried, fully expecting a scornful rejection.
“Yes, please!” she responded, face alight in anticipation.
After accepting my gift, she looked at me gratefully and announced, “No one has ever given me a rock before!”
While I have chuckled over our little interaction in the days that have followed, I have also realized that a gift much bigger than mine of the unexpected rock, was the young girl’s to me of perspective. How many times do we anticipate something in a certain form? When what we expected is not available, how often do we let our disappointment rule? How capable is each of us of considering the alternative as a gift?
As the school year begins, there are many opportunities for disappointment: Our child isn’t assigned the teacher she (we!) wanted; he’s split from his friends; neither has an ideal schedule. Experience tells us that most of these things will work out all right, but it can frequently take time for us to realize and accept that fact. In the meantime, we grumble and complain and generally make life, if not miserable, at least somewhat grumpy. We all know some folks, in fact, who seem to “worship their worries,” as a friend of mine puts it.
Those of us who live in Incline Village have much for which to be grateful. Of course we also carry private burdens, which, for some, are serious. It’s important to remember how to distinguish between the significant and the trivial.
Personally, I plan to carry with me the image of my Truckee Thursdays friend. She whose face lit up when I told her we didn’t have a balloon, but she was welcome to a rock. “No one’s ever given me a rock before!” I hope to remember her face and spirit when there are no balloons available and someone offers me a rock.
— Ruth Glass is headmaster at Lake Tahoe School. She can be reached for comment through her blog at www.laketahoeschool.org.