Among the sports my children tried were t-ball, baseball, basketball, swimming, skateboarding, rollerblading, surfing, and karate.
Each experience left behind its own set of memories, but the one that has stuck with me longest is this one I learned from the legendary Bill Clark, when he arrived in all his splendor for karate testing.
Among many other motivational quotations he used to inspire us all to greatness, he said this to the assembly:
“Flexibility is youth.”
I was a young mom then and in spite of my busy schedule had energy enough for all I needed to do on a daily basis.
But it struck me even then I should do something to remain flexible and somewhat physically fit.
I settled on bike riding, because—as you may have heard me state many times before—I don’t have even one sports-minded bone in my whole body. Asthmatic and flat-footed, I have never been able to run and don’t much care for walking. It takes too long to get back to your starting point.
Later I took up yoga (with a DVD in my own living room) and at present I am blessed with enough energy to walk around the Magic Kingdom all day or have five children spend the night.
However, we all know there is more to flexibility than having good joints.
Depending on the generation of which you are a member—I’m a Baby Boomer, for example— change and “progress” can be of varying…and limited…appeal to you.
The aspects of society, politics, religion, education, and any number of other circles and spheres in which we move seem to be changing faster than we can keep up.
The “old days” is how we did things ten days ago.
As disagreeable as the recent quarantine inconvenience has been, it has been astonishing to me that we already had so many conveniences in place.
We were already doing so many chores and tasks online and soon, there were even more ways to connect and take care of business and stay in touch in more informal ways.
We Microsoft-teamed up and Zoomed to our heart’s content, and maybe more than we wanted to.
As difficult as the situation was, we had at our fingertips the tools we needed to survive and even thrive.
I remember very clearly way back at the dawn of the ‘90’s how resistant I was to switch from a typewriter to a computer, how I decried e-mail and deemed it inferior to a letter.
Those days are long gone.
And how thankful I am for the many people in my life who encouraged—and shoved me, in some cases—and taught me how to feel comfortable with burgeoning technology.
Embracing technology is an easy accession to make. There is so much to gain.
But what about flexibility in other areas of our lives?
Here are some ideas to consider:
Family. Nothing will teach flexibility more quickly than starting your own family. Date someone as long as you want, but it really is true. You don’t know someone till you live with them.
You will have (and continue to have) different ideas about schedules, meals, finances, leisure, TV viewing, yardwork, division of labor and too many other topics too numerous to list.
Add children and all of the above only becomes more complex.
Remaining flexible is crucial.
Allow for differences in personality, outlook on life, and wants and needs you may be at a loss to explain.
For example: you may think a teddy bear is the perfect gift. The child asks for a dinosaur. Buy the dinosaur.
Neighbors. By neighbors, I mean the other people who occupy your world. Your workplace, church, school, as well as others.
We have all seen within the last few months how important it is that we listen to each other. We may not see that lived out or patterned on wider stages, but that need not stop us from being flexible with the people around us.
As the old preacher used to say, “We can learn to disagree without being disagreeable.”
Busy as you are, take time to stop and say a kind word, or better yet, stop and help.
Recently, when I was shopping, I encountered a lady—shorter than I—trying to reach a 2-liter bottle off a top shelf. I stepped in and said, “Could I help you with that? I have a few inches on you?” I retrieved the bottle for her. She thanked me.
We met later in the parking lot. I was loading my groceries into my trunk. She had finished with hers and walked over to my car.
“I’ll take this for you,” she said, taking my empty cart to “Return Carts Here.”
Neither of us was obligated to help the other. We both, perhaps, had a schedule to keep. But we both deemed it a small thing to stop and fulfill a need.
Yourself. Indeed, be flexible with yourself. Many of you do not yet have experience with maturing and entering the stage of life where you want and need to live more simply, where you are satisfied with less, and your dreams become simpler to fulfill.
Allow yourself the privilege of easing up on your requirements of yourself. If you want to opt out of activities and say, “I can’t stay out that late,” then do so.
If you need to let go of some responsibilities, hire someone to do work you used to do, ask for help more often, though your pride may be injured, then ease up.
The people you love are standing by to help.
Being flexible does not mean you sail through life with no care for the clock, the needs of others, and no attention to requirements.
It means, that, like Jesus, when you’re on your way to someplace else, and you spy a “woman at the well” or other sorrowing soul, you stop and listen.
You know the importance of “rest.”
Of all kinds.