One sunny June day some years back, my family took off for a hike above Lake Tahoe. We hiked in search of an area high on the mountain. Not too far up the trail, we hit snow. First in patches, we soon found ourselves ankle deep in the beautiful white stuff. We hadn’t considered the possibility of snow-covered ground in this almost-summertime season. (We live in San Diego and are generally unacquainted with the whole idea of snow.) It was indeed beautiful in the cool, white-covered forest. Of course, the trail was lost to us, but we knew the general direction of our goal and kept on trudging.
The problem was our shoes. We all wore tennies. Not water-resistant hiking shoes. Not snow boots. Just regular fabric-and-rubber tennies. (These shoes work fine year-round in San Diego, you see.) Still, we kept on, ignoring our wet feet. Our cold feet. Our numb feet.
Eventually, young Meg had enough. She planted her small pink tennies firmly in a bank of snow and declared, “I am not going farther. My feet are cold. I am staying right here. You can leave me here in the trees, but I’m not going on.”
Did we for a moment consider leaving her alone in the cold? Well, perhaps . . . No, of course not! The youngest member of our family had reached her limit, so we all turned around. Another year we went back and, with an earlier and warmer spring and less snow, we did the entire hike up the mountain.
Last week we discovered Zion National Park, with its spectacular rock-face cliffs and stands of cottonwood trees. We rode the shuttle that ferries nature-lovers along. This was a perfect way for my mom to be in the canyon while not having to walk on uneven, rocky, sandy ground. We got off the shuttle at one point near the river and we headed toward the sound of rushing water. In our eagerness to reach the river, we forgot to slow down for Mom. Eventually, we heard a voice behind us: “I’m not going farther. I’m going to stay right here. You go ahead. I’m tired.”
We did go ahead, because the river was so close that we could stick our hands in it . . .
and still see my mom, back at her post.
Moving toward a goal, whether its large or small, requires determination. But sometimes the needs of those close to us have to come before the goal. This is tough for me; I am goal-oriented to a fault. In Zion, I was able to reach the river while still making sure my mom was just fine. In Tahoe, I had to give up on the goal, at least temporarily, to make sure my daughter stayed safe. Sometimes we just need to wait for someone even though we want to press ahead. Maybe someday when I’m my mom’s age my daughter will be the one waiting patiently on me.
Are you goal-oriented? How have you altered or tailored a goal to accommodate someone you care about? Was it a tough or an easy decision?