Once upon a time there lived a family of four, known throughout the land as The Beandricks. Their story is not of noble descent; there were no kings, queens or princesses within their bloodline. They possessed no special powers, be they political or superhuman in nature, yet they were no less exceptional as far as living beings are concerned. The mother, Alison, father, Phillip, and two daughters, Nora and Audrey, lived happily together in the Village of Elora; a quaint little town in the Kingdom of Wellington, where visitors from neighbouring regions would flock to spend their hard-earned schillings on blown glass and other fine art, or to enjoy a nice tall stein of cold mead by the river. They lived a peaceful existence in their home at the edge of the land, tilling their soil, tending to their chickens, and always prepared for adventure.
Time went on, as it tends to do, and the children grew older, wiser, and stronger, while their father watched and observed them adapt to world around them. Their adventures grew bolder, and through his eyes he began to recognize that, for as much as he was teaching them every day about their surroundings, they were, perhaps, teaching him even more. And so, one day he took to writing down the lessons he had learned, with the hope that he would never forget the value of paying attention, and that wisdom flows both up and down through every age and generation.
Lesson One, in Which Father Discovers Courage
One beautiful spring day, while venturing through an area of the nearby gorge, young Nora wandered from the path to explore; closely in tow, Father followed.
“Where are you going?” he asked his clearly curious daughter.
“I want to go climbing.” was all she said back. And just like that, she was off on her way and nearly out of sight.
As he followed the traces of her footsteps, he finally caught up with her. She was standing at the base of a small maple tree, peering up in wonder through it’s winding branches.
“I want to climb this one.” she said, and before he could respond, she grabbed onto the first branch.
Feeling anxious for what to him seemed a task far beyond her ability, he proceeded to caution her:
“You might get hurt, aren’t you scared?!” he shouted nervously, urging her not to go any further.
“But Daddy, don’t I need to be scared before I can be brave?”
Lesson Two, in Which Father Learns Perseverance
The day that the girls learned to ride their bikes brought with it joy to the hearts of both Father and Mother. That they never gave up, despite their frustrations, gave the entire family a burst of pride, which they would go on to share with everyone in the village.
But when they day came that Mother wanted to introduce a new bike for Nora, one with extra gears, a taller seat and handlebar breaks, Father grew nervous and his statements came quickly.
“It’s too big. She’s not ready. She needs another year. The one she has now is fine. She could get hurt. She looks too nervous. She could fall!”
“But, my dear husband, the most strapping and handsome in all the land, if she never falls, how will she learn to get back up and try again?”
Lesson Three, in Which Father is Struck by Inspiration
On a day with no previous particular meaning or significance, Nora rushed into the house from her lessons, excited to share the contents of her school bag. It was commonplace for her to be excited, so that was not new, but what she had experienced in the classroom was, and she was eager to share it.
“We did a special art class today, look what I made!”
She passed him a piece of paper, one full of rich colours and texture. Father was at the same time impressed and unsure of what exactly he was looking at. Art had quickly become Nora’s favourite subject and pastime, with their home full of various decorations and an abundance of markers and pencil crayons. He was about to learn how much this art had developed her perspective.
“It is beautiful,” he said. “You have quite the imagination. But I have to ask, my dear, what is it?”
“Daddy, how can you call it imagination if I tell you what it is?”
Lesson Four, in Which Father Recognizes Patience
Every adventure has a start, a middle and an end; for The Beandricks family, the duration of the middle would always seem to last a length of time somewhere in-between forever and infinity. What should be a ten minute walk to a park, would often require a buffer of at least one hour.
One particular day, on their way to a local purveyor of fresh iced cream, Audrey was lagging behind more than what was typical, stopping every few feet to inspect cracks in the path, bumps on a tree or to pick dandelions from the grass.
“You are moving too slowly!” Father blurted out in frustration. “Don’t you want to get on with our adventure and enjoy our favourite treat?”
“But Daddy, how can we enjoy an adventure if we don’t enjoy the journey?”
Lesson Five, in Which Father is Bestowed Wisdom
Without surprise, every day brings with it the night. Also without surprise is the eternal struggle one faces when it comes time to tuck the little ones into bed for a good night’s sleep. It’s the one thing they need in the moment, yet the thing they fight most.
To Father, the techniques of procrastination were growing old, and with that came the frustration. This particular evening was no exception, and the pattern of delay was starting to rear its head by way of a singular word: “Why?”
The infinite circular rhythm of one simple word seems paradoxical, yet ever-so relatable. He could feel his frustration surfacing. It started with Nora, then Audrey followed suit…
“Why do we need to brush our teeth before bed?”
“Why is mouthwash flavoured with mint?”
“Why do we sleep at night and not in the day?”
“Why do you have two pillows but we only have one?”
“Why do you stay up later than we do?”
“Why do people have eyelashes?”
Barely a breath or opportunity to answer in-between, the barrage of questions had no end.
“GIRLS!” Exclaimed Father, and in a fit of irony, continued with:
“Why must you ask so many questions?!”
“Because, Daddy, how will we know if we don’t ask?”
Lesson Six, in Which Father Understands Awareness
On a trail deep in the woods of some far away place, Father and his daughters were hiking. They set out in the morning, with plenty of nourishment and fresh water, for they knew it would be a lengthy and tiring excursion.
They had travelled the well-trodden paths of this forest many times before, and they knew every root, rock and nest of almost every red-winged blackbird in the wood. But this time, as they approached a fork in the road, something unexpected would occur…
“Daddy,” spoke the youngest of the family. “I want to go this way today.”
Audrey, wide-eyed and curious, pointed to the path less travelled. It was clear from the expression on her face that, on this most beautiful of days, there was only one answer she’d accept. Even still, Father replied:
“But we might get lost, my love. We’ve never been down that path before, and I’m not sure where it will lead us.”
Ever the explorer and curiously-minded, she replied simply:
“Lost? But Daddy, how can I be lost if this is where I want to be?”
From the mouths of his loving family, Father had learned, perhaps above all, that a small change in perspective could allow him to see things in a whole new way. That bravery can’t exist on its own, success requires failure, interest and curiosity feed the mind, the end is not what matters most, and to appreciate the current moments in which we find ourselves. While the lessons and adventures of The Beandricks from Elora were far from over, one thing is known for certain: they lived courageously, determined, confidently, patient, adventurously, and mindfully ever-after.