A number of years ago I lived with a friend, a single mom, and her two year old daughter.
Two year olds are awesome, my son is two now. They are funny and learning so much, everyday a new adventure for learning. One particular day, I learned a lesson from this two year old girl that has stuck with me.
She was walking around with this bucket of balls. She would stop somewhere and pull them out and put them on the ground, arrange the colours and so forth and then put them back in the bucket and take them somewhere else. She was very very busy with this bucket of balls.
Quite suddenly she tripped and the balls went flying. She lost it. LOST IT. Crying hysterically, her mother rushed in and helped her pick up the balls and comfort her in her distress. I found it annoying. At first I couldn’t sense why it was so annoying but it was. I mean, it’s just a bucket of balls, so what, they fell, just pick them up, what’s with the whole production?
Part of why I found it annoying was because I was going through a particularly stressful time and just the sound of screaming toddler can throw an imbalanced person into a state of agitation. I wanted to rationally explain to her that her drama was unwarranted and the dropped balls were not that big a deal.
What became suddenly apparent was that the stress I was dealing with, that put me so on edge as to be irritated by a two year old, was just as insignificant as this girl’s bucket of balls. I mean, these things had been her whole world for days. They were what took her time and attention. They were important. What’s important and stressful is in direct relationship to where we are at. What was stressful in high school would be a piece of cake now. What was stressful when I first started working for myself is not even in my awareness now and in five years, what totally freaks me out today will be insignificant.
So, needless to say, my compassion kicked in and I got on the floor and helped her pick up her balls. It taught me to consider that what is painful or stressful to someone else is valid, even if I can’t relate. But more importantly, I learned to look at the excessive amount of significance I bring to areas of my life and look upon them more simply- as buckets with balls in them that I am furiously going about doing things with.