Friday, April 16, 2010

It's A Small World at the Train Park

I had a wonderful experience at the McCormick Ranch Train Park a few days ago. Some of my relatives were in town for my nephew’s wedding. We grownups decided to use a trip to the train park as an excuse to entertain Brayden, 5, Rosannah, 2 and Briannah, 9 months, for the afternoon. However, I think the adults had more fun than the kiddies.

It is so exhilarating to see the world through a child’s eyes. While we were passengers on the kiddy train Rosannah watched in awe as the scenery gently chug, chug, chugged along the track. She was more apprehensive about the carousel. Fortunately she sat on the horse next to Brayden. He offered sage advice (hold on to the pole and don’t let go until it stops). Of course his presence as a more experienced rider was helpful too. Just to be on the safe side, I stood next to both riders in case of an accidental dismount. When we returned for a ride Rosannah even mustered the courage to wave a quick hello to her baby sister, aunt, great aunties and uncle.

Even something as simple as the music playing Disney favorites such as “It’s A Small World After All” was cause for excitement. Okay, I admit that song has lost its luster for me, but it was refreshing to see how much the children enjoyed it. After all, in no time they will be trading nursery rhymes for music that will most likely offend the ear drums of anyone born before the second millennium.

However, it was our playground experience that proved enlightening. Scattered along the sand was a plethora of toys. A mom and her two children brought enough toys to keep every kid in the playground happy. There were buckets, shovels, cars, trucks and cups. The children were free to drive their miniature vehicles over the terrain, dig trenches and make sand castles.

What was unusual about this was the toys were there for all to use. There wasn’t a tug of war over who was the owner of each item. The children played with the toys and when they were done, they moved on to something else. There was a “rightful” owner, but since the children didn’t insist on declaring their “rights,” everyone played happily. Even Rosannah, who usually likes to hang onto toys, put the borrowed bucket down and went to play on the slide.

So what does this signify? I suppose it could mean a lot of things. My thought is that when we operate with a mindset of abundance rather than focus on what we are lacking, the world seems a generous and happy place. It is when we revert to our more primal us-against-the-world, view that problems arise.

I remember reading that happiness is measured by our generosity toward others. This does not necessarily mean giving money away (although it could). It is more about our attitude toward our fellow human beings. Maybe we don’t have a carload of toys to take to the park. But we might ask ourselves, “Am I generous with my kind thoughts, actions and speech, or do I dole them out sparingly to those I deem worthy?”
You don’t have to be a genius to create a harmonious milieu. I just witnessed how a thoughtful mother and her two children created a peaceful setting in a city park. All it takes is the ability to look past our immediate needs and consider the happiness of others. Why not? “It’s a small world after all.”

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