Phoenix is climbing to the higher platform at the park. He's never tried for it before. He's never contemplated the taller slide. I'm down on the ground cheering him onward, "you're so big! Look how high! You can do it. Is that slide huge? Wanna go for it? You can do it! Let's go! I'll catch you!"
As he's become surer on his feet, Phoenix has lost no time trying to run, climb, and explore everything. His curiosity must outweigh his caution. And though I see his confidence falter here and there, when he crouches down to a knee to make it over a big step, he's mostly unstoppable. He tries new foods, even if he doesn't like them. He reaches for anything we're holding, and looks out the windows constantly to take in a wide world outside our home. He adjusts to big changes that are outside of his control, and is always ready to go "bye-bye" even though he has no idea where we'll end up.
I'm completely struck by his boldness, and can't help but cheer him on. When I stop to think, I realize how much bigger and more dangerous his world is getting. How much more likely it is he'll touch the stove, or topple down the stairs, or get way ahead of his toddling feet and face plant. I know that a healthy dose of caution, fear, and doubt are healthy. At the same time, his enthusiasm and openness to the unknown are rocking my world, and all I want to do is encourage him—falling, tripping, disappointment, rejection, and failure be damned...and then accepted.
Here's the thing. As he's becoming more confident...I think I am too. I think it's for the same reasons. Curiosity outweighs caution. I want to know what comes next. I want to see what new trick he'll learn, find out what he'll think to say, what new food will become his favorite. Who will he be? What will he be able to do? How will he transform himself?
I want to know all those same things about myself.
I believe somewhat, that my words and thoughts have the power to change how I feel. So, I'm starting to believe that when I say encouraging and empowering things to Phoenix—knowing he's nervous, that likely he'll fail before he succeeds, aware that practice will make him a master—I hear those things for myself too.
My personality type would say my free spirit makes me hesitant to commit. Combined with the fact that I'm influenced by what I can observe, I don't usually get swept up in what the future might hold. So, I'm not a huge dreamer, and unlikely to commit to practice new/hard things that I haven't mastered. That's ok. It doesn't have to come naturally to me. The more I believe in what the future might hold for Phoenix, the more I believe in future abilities for myself. The more I practice new things with him, the more motivated I feel to practice new things I want to master.
The more often I say "you can do it" to that kid, because I really believe he can do anything, the more it changes what I believe about myself.
I'm glad to know about my nature. It's nice to know myself. But Maddie is just one piece of truth in a wide universe of truth. There's more than just my nature. There's also endless possibility, growth, change, practice, mastery, and the curiosity that gives me courage to toddle forward, even when my feet can't keep up yet.