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Goals?

We all have goals that we strive for. My son, as usual, has taught me yet another lesson in life - this time about goals.

Many times on my way to work past my neighbors' houses, I have startled a gray rabbit that roams the neighborhood. He most likely lives under the neighbor's bushes. Once or twice it has startled me. I would jump out of my thoughts of what I had to do that day. The rabbit would be gone in a jerky flash and I would go on with planning my day. Goals, such as buying things and saving up for a sparse retirement, mean that I had to continue on to work.

The other day my son was with me for a walk. My goal was to wear him out so his bouncy energy didn't later wear me out. His goal was to have fun. He noticed the rabbit, and, of course, the rabbit noticed him. They both froze. I stayed back as my son then tried to sneak up on the rabbit. I have no idea what he would have done if he had caught it. He didn't either. The bunny bounced a little ways and stopped. My son tried again. The bunny bounced, my son stalked. This happened once more before the rabbit finally continued out of sight.

I expected my son to be disappointed or angry. Instead he gleefully exclaimed, "Wow, I got closer than I thought I would."

As he balanced on retaining walls, zig-zagged along, and looked for a neat-looking stick, I reflected on his "goals." He did not plan on catching the bunny. His goal was to see how close he could come. His goal was to not finish this walk we were on, but to experience the walk. When he convinces me to play with his Matchbox cars, he has no idea of how to determine a winner or a conclusion to the self-made game. His goal is to play, and to play with his father.

What are my goals? I want to get ahead. I no longer want to become rich, that rabbit has already gotten away from me. But according to my son, my trying to get rich should be fun. I love my job; does that count? I want to be a good father. Does noticing the many rabbits in my son's life count? How many times will he just get close? Maybe the simple attempt at something is the goal - if you have fun.

Rather than being the basketball star, maybe joyfully cheering from the bench and belonging on the team will suffice. Listening to the valedictorian's speech, rather than giving it, might be like coming close to catching that rabbit. "I tried, and I got closer than I thought I would." How many goals have jumped out and startled me, and then I didn't try to pursue them? When was the last time I zig-zagged along, just so I could have more fun on the way?

There is no way a child can catch with his bare hands a wary bunny. That should never stop them from trying. How many impossible-to-catch rabbits have I not tried for? Like becoming rich, I have no idea what I would do if I did succeed. The trying should be the fun.