“In coming!” the five year old yelled as he dove under the TV tray.
Splat! The crab apple cracked open against the apple tree and sprayed the enemy.
I stayed low behind the bushes to avoid a barrage of retaliation. I put the stem of the crab apple grenade between my teeth and gave it a yank. It was armed. I tossed it high over the bushes and watched it slice through the tree branches, releasing two apples that dropped down on Denny. A direct hit.
Craig shouted for Denny to duck under the TV tray, but it was too late. My third crab apple grenade smashed down hard, rattling the flimsy tray and tossing the snacks into the air. Success!
“We surrender!” Shouted Denny.
I stood up with a pile of grenades in my arms and walked toward Denny and Craig with the pride of victory welling up within my soul.
“Now!” Shouted Craig, catching me by surprise.
I was met with a shower of apples that appeared from behind their backs. The first hit jostled my arm full of apples, dumping them to the ground. I turned and jumped into the nearby bushes. Apples smashed through the branches landing all around me.
Thankfully I was unscathed, but they were camped out next to the crab apple tree and the only grenades I had were the near misses within my reach. They also had our snacks and my stomach rumbled for a treat.
I had no choice but to surrender and invoke the Geneva convention so I could eat. After all, little boys need food to grow big and strong, especially with me entering the first grade in a couple weeks.
Convinced that I was trembling behind the bushes, Craig and Denny set down their apples and grabbed one of the numerous snacks. The treats were so delicious that they didn’t see me walk over to them. I quickly grabbed a handful of apples and pelted them at close range. They dropped their treats and ran into the garage. I packed up the candy and headed home, the winner.
Before entering my home, I circled back around and met Denny and Craig on their back steps where we chatted and ate the snacks. It had been another exciting day filled with adventure and we couldn’t wait to see what our creative play would bring about the next day. But for the time, we leaned back against the steps and chatted about how good life was.
We didn’t know, until later in life, how our playtime allowed us to develop adult skills. Craig knew that the TV tray would protect him from the falling debris, as he sought it’s protection. His insights and methodical approach to life would one day shine as an executive of a major chemical engineering firm.
Denny always seemed to be caught in the middle of life happening to him. He was always a free spirited musician who just lived life naturally. It was no wonder he didn’t take cover, but instead watched the apples slice through the branches, depositing him with a juicy shrapnel.
I was always the creative and strategic innovator. Up until we got together, a crab apple was just another apple to the guys. They had no idea how much fun it would be to play Rat Patrol or War. And, my six year old mentality was pretty good at scrambling to find a way to win.
Years later, I realized how important that early stage of life was to each of us. We were being groomed for our future and didn’t understand that how we faced our daily lives would establish our future. We weren’t cognizant of how we would develop and use those early year experiences to the betterment or detriment of our lives.
Psychologists tell us that we go through four main stages in life and each stage adds to the previous one. What is more fascinating to me is how we fall back to the last stage where we were most comfortable the moment we encounter a crisis in our life. It seems like I’ve revisited adolescence several times including when my dad died in a plane crash and the divorce I faced.
The good news is that my mind and life experiences stayed intact and allowed me to methodically work back to being an adult (emotionally speaking) in a reasonable fashion after grieving and regrouping. In fact, I’ve noticed that the same processes help in getting past dates who have dumped me or immature co-workers who don’t understand how to be professional.
The steps I take for bounding back includes:
1. Admit How I Feel — Acknowledging my negative feelings validate my right to live and feel. It allows me to be authentic and face the fact that I was hurt.
2. Understand My Feelings — Focusing on what is at the core of why I feel bad enlightens me to my core desires that were blocked or rejected. This gives me the ability to decide if my desires are worth supporting or changing, and gives opportunity to refine it.
3. Make A Great Choice — Regardless of the pain or hurt feelings I’ve endured, I have the opportunity to make a choice of picking myself up and moving forward in seeing my desires fulfilled. This sense of action moves me closer to being fulfilled and further away from having a pity party or falling into a depression.
4. Celebrate My Growth — Every time I’ve gone through a crisis, I’ve had the opportunity to refine my perspective, clarify my desires and gained wisdom that is helpful when shared with others. This gift allows me to be a blessing to others while I’m on the trail to my hearts desire.
I never thought so much would develop within my soul as a result of lobbing apple grenades through the trees. Nor did I understand that my creativity and ability to strategize would be used to help others walk through their crisis. As for today, I’m currently developing a program designed to help the hurting through a new creative process. I hope to share more about it in the near future, but for now I’ll just remind you that you were wonderfully and fearfully made.