When you feel like a lost toddler standing in a swim diaper

When almost every aspect of your life is messy and out of control, sometimes all it takes is a simple single instance to make you see things a bit more clearly.

One moment.
One person.
One act.
One second.
One breath.
One sight.
One heartbeat.

For me, this moment came in the form of a tiny little human who had lost his way on the beach. I was actually sitting on the ground—usually I prefer being on the lifeguard stands—and was reading a book when I felt someone standing next to where I was. I looked up to see an adorable young boy (so young that he was still in a swimming diaper) looking in all directions like he was searching for something. He had a look of terrified panic on his face, and I figured he couldn’t find his family. I was surprised he wasn’t crying—he looked too determined to let sorrow take over. I was about to say something to him and help him find his parents, but then his face lit up.

He had found them.

I watched as he took off running as fast as those chubby little legs would let him toward the tent with his parents and baby sister. The entire scene warmed my heart, and I’m pretty sure I would have cried if I were one of those happy criers. I think I also would have cried if I were big on sad crying because, in that moment, I felt like I could relate to the little guy.

I’ve had much to ponder lately.

It’s now been exactly one month since I packed up my entire life and moved to California. My world is definitely a lot different than it used to be, and I feel like I’ve had a string of one unfortunate event after another occur. There was the whole multiple flooding episodes at my first apartment (among the many other problems there) and then having to move, and now I’m having to take that place to small claims court; the cable guy bailed on me last weekend and had to reschedule, so I had to go the entire week without television or Internet at home (yes, I know that this is a materialistic first-world problem, but you try doing it, and let me know if you enjoy it a ton); then there were a few things that happened last week on my birthday that I don’t feel like discussing right now; also, there was a wildfire not too far from work that created a slight scare and even impacted some of my coworkers; last Friday, the “check engine” light came on in my car, so I got a diagnostic run, and that’s going to be a fun little expensive thing to deal with now; and then I stepped on a jellyfish not too long before that sweet little lost boy gave me a fresh perspective.

Having to take a business to small claims court has caused me more stress than I can explain, and I had to be late to work two days in a row to go to the courthouse (there were some corrections that had to be made to the paperwork that apparently had to be done in person). The first day I was there, I stood in the wrong line outside for 30 minutes and then had to stand in another one to go inside the building. As I was waiting in the second line, I noticed a sign saying that no weapons of any sort were allowed in the building (you have to walk through a metal detector and have your purse searched), and it hit me that I had a knife in my purse. I had a gun pulled one me a couple of years ago, so I always have a knife or pepper spray on me. I really didn’t feel like getting arrested that day, so I asked the homeboy behind me who was in line because of his recent DUI to hold my place in line so that I could go hide my knife behind a plant. On my way out, I had to be kind of sneaky and pretend to tie my shoe that wasn’t untied when I picked the weapon back up because the security guard was looking at me through the window.

The second day I went, I made sure I was the first person there and in the right line (I left my knife in the car that time), but it was a really humid morning. When the security guard started putting signs outside and unlocking doors, I asked her if it would be possible to let me stand just inside the doors even though they weren’t open yet. She looked at me like I was crazy, but then I explained to her that I had washed my hair that morning and curled it, and I really didn’t want it to frizz and lose any of its curl. I wish I could show you her expression. She told me that wasn’t allowed, but I think she perhaps thought about the importance of hair maintenance because she had a change of heart a few minutes later and told me that I could come inside and go sit on one of the benches. It was a small victory during this time of my life, and I embraced it.

When the weekend rolled around, I was spent.

My precious niece knows that level of excitement of dreams coming true. She’s one of my favorite humans ever.

I think a lot of us feel like that little boy at times—we’re searching and searching and not finding what our hearts really want and need. We feel lost and alone and scared and uncertain of what we’re supposed to do. But then we see what we’ve been hoping for all along, and nothing can hold us back from running toward those fulfilled hopes at warp speed.

And in that moment of seeing that happen, I remembered that it’s OK to be scared, and it’s OK to feel lost, and it’s OK to feel so confused and out of place when you have no idea what’s in store for you. The important thing is to keep going and to keep believing that you can and will get to wherever it is you need to be.

That little boy ran toward safety. He ran toward comfort. He ran toward love.

And I hope that every day of my life I let my heart light up and run at full speed toward love just like he did.

One thought on “When you feel like a lost toddler standing in a swim diaper

  1. This is so deep. It’s like you’re looking for a sign to help validate your life choices, and I think you found it by observing this little munchkin. Keep up the writing, very insightful!

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