Saturday, July 26, 2008

Lessons from the Summer of '71

When I was in the 3rd grade, we moved from Lakewood (Denver suburb) to Oak Lawn (Chicago suburb). While in transition to a home my parents purchased, we lived in a rental for 9 months or so on 79th Street South, west of Cicero Avenue (those familiar with Chicago are the only ones who will care about that detail -- and I Google.mapped it and discovered that the house and lot where I lived are now a parking lot) in Burbank. 

There are many stories to be told from that rental (whose former tenants had been a stripper and her drummer boyfriend) and that neighborhood.  I'll limit myself to one of those today.

One of my fond memories is of the neighbors who were on the other side of the empty lot across the street. I cannot remember their names, but they were really kind and fun.  Two girls -- both a good bit older than I -- took me under their wing and taught me some important lessons. 

First, they introduced me to softball -- and for that the empty lot came in quite handy.

Second, they introduced me to jump rope. Oh, I'd learned to jump in gym class, but not double dutch. We weren't really that good (I've seen really good) but we had fun with the sing-song rhymes and the teamwork. I loved that the point was not to trip up the jumper, but to keep that jumper hopping as long as possible. We were forever trying to break our own records. The goal that superseded any sense of competition was that we'd all be successful. 

What I remember from learning this skill, however, is more indicative of my temperament than I would have understood at the time. 

First, I was sure at the beginning that I probably couldn't do it, but I really wanted to and I was influenced to try by the encouragement of those girls. 

Once I started to get the hang of it, my respect for those who could do it well increased and my desire to be innovative grew. I more readily celebrated the creativity of others -- even in their failure.  

Even when I was pretty confident in what I could and couldn't do, I still hesitated more than others just before jumping into the action.  While others would just barely get the rhythm and jump right in, I held back to make sure. Sometimes I needed a kick in the seat of the proverbial pants. However, once I jumped in, I always wondered why it had taken me so long to do so. 

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