I recently attended a school field trip with my 8 year old daughter. We went to a theme park that had different types of rides and roller coasters. Like me, my daughter is a bit short – in fact, she is the shortest in her class and possibly even in her entire grade.
I hadn’t given much thought to the specifics of the type of trip we were on, just happy to be attending and excited to be with her for the day.
When we got to the front of the line for the first ride, I noticed the “must be this tall to ride” sign. I felt a lightning bolt hit my chest and my stomach sank. All of the childhood memories of being too short to ride anything came flooding back to me. Unless it was a “baby” ride, I was always left out to watch my brother and all the other kids – many even younger than me – have the time of their lives. “Maybe next year” offers little consolation in the moment.
Being left out, whether intentional or otherwise, can be one of the worst feelings.
It hadn’t even crossed my mind until that moment. Also – I could see that she was close, but definitely a half inch or so shorter than needed for this ride. It was too late to turn back, half of her class was already on the ride and the other half waiting to get on behind her. As my daughter went to cross the threshold from the waiting platform to the ride, the laughter, giggles and excitement in the air came to a grinding halt. I once again heard those piercing words from the man attending the ride.
“Hold on right there, I have to measure you.”
The line stops and everyone gets quiet. The measuring process is being drawn out as he tries to get her to stand still and straight with her back against the sign while she is excitedly trying to make her way onto the ride. Then he breaks out a little measuring tool to slide on top of her head, apparently in an effort to get “down-to-the-milimeter” accuracy. This is also taking some time. Everyone in line is dead-silent.
In my head, I start going over the exact perfect phrase to say to this guy to make him reconsider if he decides she’s too short. Beg? Plead? Bribe? Pull on his heartstrings with my own childhood sob-stories? Looking back at her face, I wasn’t above any of it…
He finally gets her still enough to slide his little plastic straight edge over the top of her head onto the little inch marks on the sign. Even with the big bow in her hair – that he is being kind enough to measure on top of – she’s a bit below the mark. It now feels like it’s been 10 minutes, but I’m sure its only been about 45 seconds. He finally says (probably from the kindness of his heart) “Oooh, just barely, but you got it!” He then lets her cross onto the ride.
What happened next touched my heart but I didn’t realize how profound it was until the drive home.
The moment he let her enter the ride, the entire line of children erupted into cheers and clapping. Kids in her class, kids not in her class, parents, teachers, everyone. What really got me was the kids.
In that moment, every child was on the same page. They were one. It would have brought them no satisfaction or joy to see her turned away. It was almost as if they were sharing the experience with her and all at the same time – maybe even subconsciously – felt compassion for her possible embarassment, or what it may feel like if they weren’t able to ride with everyone else.
I think the most important part is that none of them felt that there wouldn’t have been a space for them if she were to get a seat. There was zero envy. Zero jealousy. Her gain did not mean lack for them.
The excitement they felt was WITH her, not just FOR her.
No one believed that they would not get a slice of the pie because someone else did. There is not a finite amount of pie. It is infinite. Seeing this in children leads me to believe this is our default setting.
Let’s not let the world reprogram us otherwise. Let’s celebrate each others accomplishments and happiness as if it were are own. Let’s get rid of the false notion that there is only a certain amount of love, or abundance, or that the more others get, the less there is for us.
Abundance is infinite. Its expands proportionately with peoples desire for it. You will never have less because someone else has more.
So, since we are all connected and programmed to rejoice in others accomplishments, who’s abundance/success can you cheer for today?
Because after all, it does effect all of us.