I like to find strategies for dealing with life’s issues in other things that I do. Sometimes it seems easier to see a successful tactic in tennis, or in driving through the LA freeway system, and be able to apply it to another aspect of life. For example I recently heard one professional tennis player say that all he could do is put himself in the best position to take the shot, and as a result had the best chance for success. Putting himself in the best position takes into account all of the preparation both physically and mentally, and at the time of the point, being focused and ready to execute. That is easily applicable to just about every aspect of life. The natural follow on is that he, the player, is not emotionally tied to the outcome but rather just to the execution, which is something he can control.
Fast forward to now. My fifteen year old boy is growing up beautifully. He is a great kid, healthy, interested in lots of things, and has good friends. We parents are going through growing our own pains, because we realize that we cannot control all aspects of his life to keep him safe, out of danger, and always choosing the right path. We cannot control now his interactions with his friends, nor his thoughts, what he says, and the choices he makes. We need to trust that we are in the right position on this court to support, and that Gregory is in the right position to execute his daily choices. We need to trust that the learnings of his life have prepared him and he is confident and comfortable as he takes his swings.
We all need to be able to fail, and to have the freedom to take our swings and know that the shots may not all go in. The beauty of the game is that you can try again on the next point, and at any time, if you are still playing, you can win. I don’t want to spin too many analogies, but there are some shots he might take where the outcomes are bound to him forever. Breaking the laws, fathering a child, contracting a disease, and doing drugs are some examples.
I don’t know how to wrap this one up, but it does remind me of a story. When I was younger, I took ultra-light aircraft flying lessons. I really did not know what I was doing, and my instructor believed in learning by doing. So on one flight I as totally freaking out. I was holding the stick and my feet were on the pedals, and I was working like crazy to keep the plane level, always thinking that the aircraft (pretty much a hang glider with a lawn mower engine attached) was going to nose dive out of the sky and kill us. So my instructor told me to let go of the stick. What?!! I said, are you crazy??!! Just do it! This plane wants to fly! And so I did. I released my grip, and the flying machine went from jerking all around to this beautiful equilibrium and soft flying motion, straight and level. It was like God took over.
So I guess the lesson for me is to trust in the preparation of my son, just as I trusted that the aircraft was built to fly. And then release my grip, and let Gregory be free to take swings and fly in the wind. Of course if he is about to hit a mountain, say something!