When my youngest daughter was only eight, I took her on a hike in the Arizona desert to a place called Petroglyph Canyon. It was in the notorious Superstition Mountains which had a running waterfall nearly all year long. That is saying a great deal considering it wouldn’t rain for months at a time and temperature often reached over 120 degrees F.
The hike was about 90 minutes each way with only a moderate climb up to the canyon. I knew it would be more than doable for an eight-year-old. And as always if you ever raise a child, about a half hour into the hike came the infamous “Daddy, are we there yet?” I calmly answered her, “No, sweetheart, not yet. Almost!”
Then, right on queue about 10 minutes later, “Daddy, are we there yet?” I calmly answered her again, “No, sweetheart, not yet. Almost!” This went on every 10 minutes for the next hour.
When we were about 20 minutes away, again she asked the question again. This time, I could see the actual canyon and a very large stone at the canyon’s entrance. I looked down at her and said “See the canyon now? We are almost there!”
She timidly replied, “I don’t see the canyon, daddy.”
Feeling a little frustrated I said “See the mountain on the left?”, she answered, “Yes I do.” I asked, “See the mountain on the right?” She answered “yes…” I further asked “Do you see where they come together, there is a very large boulder there? That’s where we are going!” She answered, “No, I don’t see the boulder.”
Now, feeling even more frustrated, I asked again, “Do you see the mountain on the left?”, she answered again “Yes daddy.” I asked again “Do you see the mountain on the right?” She answered “yes…”, again. I frustratedly asked, “Do you see where they come together, there is a very large boulder there, as big as a school bus on end?” She answered, “No, I don’t see the boulder as big as a bus.”
Now really frustrated and a little short, I got down on one knee and sternly asked “Do… You… See…” And, as I pointed to the canyon and looked up to see the boulder myself, I realized that she couldn’t see it! It was impossible for her to see the boulder.
The trail rose up just enough that from her 4’, eight-year-old perspective, the ground blocked her view. She couldn’t see the canyon or the boulder no matter how many times I tried to explain it! From my 5’ 10” perspective, I could see it without obstruction.
I had two immediate insights on that trial that day. One, sometimes no matter hard you look, there is something obstructing the view making it impossible to see the finish line. This made me think about how important it is for us to realize when and how we are being blocked every day by obstacles we aren’t aware of.
Obstacles placed in front of us by our parents, teachers, society, peers, bosses, clergy, and more. We have to be aware of these obstacles, know where and what they are, so you can be able to move past them to your final goal.
The second insight I had was no matter how much you try to teach a child, show examples to a child, or lecture a child, until they are ready to understand you and have the experience enough to put your lessons into perspective, they cannot understand the life lessons you are trying to teach them.
From that day on, I was significantly more patient with my daughter through her trials and tribulations even though I was sad I couldn’t help her to prevent them.
Serial Innovator, Keynote Speaker, Trainer, Innovative Thinking
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