The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.”
This is a battle I have faced for years, trying to live in the present and not be anxious, worrying about the future. Having kids only increased that anxiety, and breast cancer made it next to impossible to just put the fear aside. I kept telling myself that I did not go through cancer treatment to live a life of fear, but remembering that is a conscious, daily task. The older I get, the more uncertain the future seems, and time and again I am reminded of the fact that nothing is promised but the present moment. Life can change in a heartbeat.
It feels impossible to not live a life of fear, but rather live one of joy and presence. Our kids are growing up so fast, and I don’t want to miss a moment wondering how many moments we will actually have. When you have so many people in your life who you love so deeply, it’s easy to get swallowed by the fear of losing them. Maybe subconsciously I even think if I worry hard enough, I can prevent bad things from happening. But you know what? Whenever the Bad has happened in my life, it was never the Bad I had worried about.
I wish I could tell you that I have the secret to living a life of presence instead of fear. I do not. But time and again, whenever I have been facing the Impossible Hard, what strengthens me is the knowledge that no matter how awful, I will never face it alone. When life takes an unexpected turn, and I feel like there is no way I will come out the other side, I am surrounded by those who love me and hold me, each in their own unique ways. There maybe have been some dark clouds in my lifetime, but none of them were without a host of silver linings, and a community of people to help me through it. I know that no matter what happens, there will be family, friends, and the Deerhorn Family by my side.
So as our kids get older, I realize the importance of surrounding them with people who care about them and will always be there for them. And while it may seem like you are just sending your kids to 2 weeks at camp this summer, with each passing summer, you are doing so much more. You are building their community. You are helping them grow their support system of people who will be there in times of need.
Of course, your kids probably already have an amazing support system. After all, we know what incredible families our campers have. But can your kids ever really have too many people who care about them? I have spent half my life at Deerhorn, and some of my closest friends are Deerhorn friends. We have celebrated births, weddings, and birthdays, and cried together at funerals.
We can’t stop the bad things from happening. We can’t fix all of their problems. We can’t protect them from pain. But we can build their safety net as big as possible, and be there to catch them when they fall.