Recently we went on a river float trip. This was our guide, Reed Finlay. He was such a terrific guide and I've thought a lot about what made him a great guide. He was very personable and welcoming. He was also very relaxed, especially in a raft with six kids under the age of 12 and three sets of tired parents.
Sidenote: It was on this trip that I realized how much more wearing parenting can be on grown ups while on vacation and with the kiddos 24/7. On any regular day at home there are lots of distractions that give everyone quite a bit more space than when riding in vehicles, staying in one small hotel room and trying to keep kids behaving decently in museums, on tours, during hikes, etc.
Thankfully we were with a big group of families so I saw that it was pretty much the same for every set of parents so I didn't take it so hard that it was tiring and sometimes frustrating for us. I'm sure in many ways the kids felt exactly the same way dealing with their parents all day every day. Haha.
Anyway, back to our guide Reed. He was great at fielding questions, explaining things we might like to know and watching out for wildlife and other things we would want to see. He was also very respectful to his clients. He acted as if he had every confidence that we would be good rafters, that is would be a great experience and that if we did have any challenges we would work together to solve them. He gave us the basic safety rundown and then we were happily off on our adventure.
I think it's easy for vacation tour guides to get tired of "dumb tourists" and lose that skill and ability to be gracious and respectful to tourists. His friendly, calm demeanor made interacting with him and sharing our homemade Snickerdoodles with him a real joy.
When I think of other guides in my life I think of a friend from my church who I have watched and admired for many years. I have heard nothing but what an amazing woman she is. She rarely makes comments in lessons at church. She does not broadly offer her wise opinions and knowledge unsolicited. I have noticed that about other wise, older people. They do not feel the need to give their advice to others unless asked. They show love and caring and friendship. They leave you with the feeling that they have absolute confidence in you. But when these wise friends do speak, everyone stops and listens.
I think as friends and fellow travelers on this journey of life the greatest gift we can give others is our respect that they are the captains of their own ships. We can never know their life exactly or how they have come to certain challenges or blessings in their lives. Sharing unsolicited judgments or opinions is so harmful. Sharing love and confidence and when needed compassion and caring are beautiful blessings to each other.
As I think about our guide Reed and my wise older friends, I want to be the most loving, kind, available guide and friend I can be. I never want someone to feel I am trying to fix them or their lives. I hope I am always there when needed but I hope I also know when and where I am not needed.
Focusing on what others need, rather than what we feel we "need" to share when it's mostly serving our own selves is a big life lesson. It's a challenging step to take towards being more gracious and godlike. This is a life lesson I want to carry towards parenting, marriage, friendships, teaching roles and anywhere else it can be applied. An opportunity to build another's confidence in their own life and abilities is a great talent to work on and a great focus for my year of Now Is My Time 2014.
--- Now Is My Time is an initiative I set for myself for 2014. Each week I've written about goals and plans I'm making this year to put myself and self-care at the forefront of my life. You can learn more here.