Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers,
but to be fearless in facing them.
Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain,
but for the heart to conquer it.

- Rabindranath Tagore

Inspirational Music

Thursday, April 17, 2014


I recently started dating an amazing girl Hannah. This post is not about her. It's about the amazing little boy that she nannies. His name is Thatcher. He has very significant developmental challenges that most children do not have. He wears braces on his legs and walking doesn't come easy for him. He cannot communicate using speech or in many ways with ease. But, he has a smile that melts you and a laugh that uplifts you. I met him a few weeks ago and have had the pleasure of his company a couple more times. In only these few times with him he's grabbed a bit of my heart. I naturally empathize with people who do not have normal lives or challenges, but this little boy has captured my attention. I can't help but think about the difficulties he lives with each day or wonder what's going on in his mind as he responds to his challenges and the people who care for and about him.

I first met him when Hannah and I picked him up from his speech therapy session. They were working on the sign language sign for "more" when we arrived. I instantly remembered when my niece, Alivia, learned that. She's now talking and doesn't use it anymore, but it instantly created a little familiar feeling. I have spent very little time with young children as they are developing up to this point in my life, but I'm amazed by her and by Thatcher. Thatcher is a different child with different challenges as I said. It is a much larger hurdle for him to learn to use that sign to communicate, but I've seen him use it and believe that he will continue to grow and learn more ways like that to communicate.

When we left that session, Thatcher was challenged by his Nanna and Hannah to walk on his own to the car. He would try to hold onto their hands or onto a wall but for most of the trek he held his own and walked completely independently. This too struck a common thread with me. I still remember learning to walk again. I remember the uncertainty and learning to trust my balance again. I remember the pain and the challenge of it. I imagine those feelings are very present for Thatcher as he strives to walk on his own each time.

The most memorable thing about my short time with Thatcher has been two other things though: his smile and his laughter. He can often have an expression that tells you very little about how he feels. When he does, it is very hard to gauge whether he is upset or content. Other times when he is certainly enjoying himself, he will crack a smile. Then there are the times that he is really enjoying himself and his unique laugh will come out. Both of these expressions of his joy are impactful. They are genuine.

This brings me to a point I suppose. It's a point I've learned but will never fully grasp. There is joy to be had in any situation and difficulty. If Thatcher can smile and laugh and play then so can I. I forget that sometimes. I can get overwhelmed with my situation or my pain or my challenges. They are things that distract me from joy and being joyful. They can distract me from living a life that recognizes joy where it can be found. Thatcher has reminded me in a big way with his struggles and joys that I need to face my own with a smile and joy.