Yesterday, I stopped by the Dollar General on the way home from work. Why? Cheap coloring books my wife could use as quilting patterns. Smart, no? But that’s not the point of this thought. It was the five-year-old girl with her mother, checking out ahead of me, that really got me thinking.
The child was proudly holding a 10-inch red ball. I think it had some cartoon character on it, maybe Dora the Explorer. She was so elated that mommy was buying her that ball. She repeatedly expressed her appreciation. For a moment, she had me convinced that $2.50 could buy happiness. I wanted to go back and buy a ball.
I wanted to go further back and be that innocent, to be in a place where something as simple as a red ball could make me that happy. It was a moment of clarity and confusion. It was a moment where my heart knew exactly how that little girl felt. In that same moment, my head couldn’t understand why I wasn’t as jubilant as that child. After all, I’m in the prime of my life. I’m earning more money than I ever have. My kids are grown and sort of out of the house. I have a wife whom I love and loves me more than grits. I have two little Chihuahuas who think me walking through the door is grander than the sunrise. The bank is letting me live in a nice house, in a nice neighborhood. The bank even lets me park a new car in the driveway. My yard is full of colorful flowers that I can point to and say, “I did that.” Thanks to years of hard work and steady insurance payments, I even have a new roof over my head. But somewhere along the way, I lost the ability to enjoy a simple red rubber ball.
Sure that little girl may lose her ball tomorrow. She may forget about it in a week, but for a few hours yesterday, that 10-inch sphere made her the happiest girl on the planet. When do I get my red rubber ball? When do I get that second chance at innocence? Is there a switch in my brain I can throw to tell my heart it’s time to be happy again? I know money can’t buy happiness, but I’m seriously considering taking $2.50 to the Dollar General tomorrow just to buy a ball. I’ll bounce it off my head a few times and see if that switch flips.
Or maybe, I’ll just be grateful for what I have. That was a pretty good list I just wrote. For someone, any one of those things would be their red ball. I’m going to go pet my wife and kiss my dogs.