Every year, the SciFi (er, SyFy) channel hosts a Twilight Zone marathon on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. I had completely forgotten about it until I went to my kitchen to heat up some pasta and scrolled through the guide until I had the genius Rod Serling on my television. My brother came downstairs for a minute and I had the luck of giving him the plot for one of my favorite (albeit tragic) episodes, Time Enough At Last, when we heard my sister in law shouting from upstairs. My brother left to check on her and my nieces and then I heard more shouting, except it sounded less angry and more excited. When I reached their bedroom, I saw my baby niece Sophie standing up by herself for the very first time. There she was, tiny little fingers gripping the top of her crib, a smile on her face from ear to ear. Her twin sister, Chloe, was in her mother’s arms, watching the commotion calmly. My brother ran for the cameras and I became the impromptu videographer of Sophie’s first solo stand.
You always hear about people recording and fussing over a baby’s first steps, but even being able to stand up alone is a remarkable accomplishment. It sets the groundwork, after all. It was awesome to see how happy she was at discovering a new ability. Over the past 8 months, I’ve watched Sophie and Chloe grow from the tiniest 3lb and 4lb newborns, barely making a peep, into these curious little girls that squeal at the sight of their daddy. There’s a scene that comes to mind from Lost in Translation, where Mr. Harris (Bill Murry) is discussing fatherhood with Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson). He tells her how children eventually become the most “delightful people you will ever meet in your whole life.” Getting to know Chloe and Sophie over all this time, I think I finally understand what he meant.
But that’s not what I wanted to say. Of course they’re delightful little humans. What I’m fascinated with, however, is their development. Hell, everyone’s development. We start off so completely helpless, so dependent on caretakers to feed us and change us and keep us clean and keep us from harm and then slowly, we begin to develop all these skills. You learn to sit up, and then you finally stand, and soon you walk and run and fall and get back up again. I hadn’t really thought about the process of learning a new skill, or the patience it requires, in a long while. Sophie’s first solo stand was a life altering accomplishment for her. She won’t be content with just sitting any longer. She’s going to wake up in a few hours and she’ll try standing again. And while she might fall or just not get it right immediately, there’s something about the innate need to strive forward, to progress and evolve, that won’t allow her to simply sit still for the rest of her life. This in itself is more inspirational than all the Nike Just Do It commercials and Hang In There kitty cat posters in the world combined.
Sophie now wants more for herself, whether she realizes it yet or not. We all begin with this drive. We’re little sponges as children, eagerly absorbing as much information as possible. Because everything is new, life is continuously fascinating. So why is it then that as we get older, we slow down our inherent desire for more? Why is it that we simply begin to accept the status quo, that we no longer view the daily things we do as exciting adventures but instead dismiss all of these incredible abilities we have as boring and mundane?
One can always learn something new from another person, especially from those you least expect it. My teacher today was Miss Sophie Faith, who today decided she wasn’t going to take life sitting down anymore (i’m a sucker for puns, what can I say?) She’s inspired me to begin taking my own series of baby steps, to continue on the path to writing better, traveling more, and having even greater adventures. It’s even more fantastic that it happened on the first day of the year, a day when we’re all reflecting on the past and looking forward with eager hopes of an even better set of 12 months.
I encourage everyone to think about the simplicity of learning new things today and every day. Take a new approach to life and try to see everything you do with fresh eyes. You might learn that you’re no longer content simply standing around and that those baby steps aren’t far behind.