Yesterday, on Saturday, we held our annual Easter egg hunt. The weather was phenomenal actually approaching 70 degrees in the sun, and we had a houseful of people over with kids from 18 months to 14 yrs old – just great fun. I hid the eggs and loose candy (we do both) before they arrived – probably around 100 pieces of loose candy and around about the same number of eggs I would guess. Our yard is a mix of lawn, garden, and woods which affords a nice selection of hiding spots. One side has a classic 300 year old New England stone wall down the length of it which offers an almost infinite number of crevices for concealing the goods. Unfortunately though, the winter rains and snows had turned most of the wooded section in the back into a giant pond – great fun when it was cold and covered with ice, but now a giant muddy mess, so that left a pretty big portion off limits.
So after some refreshments and socializing – it was time. I gathered all the kids out front and explained the rules, including staying out of the muddy areas, and turned them loose. What great joy watching them scurry about gathering up their goodies! The bigger kids walked past the candy laying out in the open for the younger kids to find and the younger kids squealed with delight every time they found something. They crisscrossed the yard and woods several times, heads turned downward searching for their sweet prey, seemingly oblivious to each other as they passed each other.
After they were clearly about out of things to find, we gathered back up again in the front to allow them a little time to delve into their buckets and enjoy the treats of their efforts, but also to allow me time to go back out in the back and hide the special prize eggs (one for each). Once again they burst forth in an explosion of kid energy, a force unmatched in elsewhere nature, and very quickly the prize eggs were turned over to me in exchange for their prizes. Just great fun for all of us.
And this morning as I thought back over the whole day, what struck me most was the fact that these kids – especially the little ones who may have only done this once or twice, or in a couple of cases, never at all – just took for the whole idea that there were brightly colored plastic eggs full of candy tucked and secreted inside the crevices of a mossy old stone wall or inside the hollowed up portion of an old tree trunk. One any other day of any other week of any other month of the year you could spend hours scouring the same wall or trees and would find not a single egg or piece of candy. Yet on this one day of the year – there they are!
And that, dear reader, got me thinking about life. We go through our lives constantly looking for treasure, for that next purple or yellow egg filled with some sort of surprise or treat. Whether it is overt or subconscious, we all do it. We read a new book; go to a new destination on a vacation or trip, join new social circles whether on line or in real life. We change jobs, cars, clothes, and hobbies. And all in hopes of discovering something that brings us new joy – a treat – life candy so to speak. We are constantly seeking that ‘next great thing” for ourselves; for that next thrill or pick me up or adrenaline rush.
The thing is, we (mostly) search in all the same familiar places. We look where we always look, predictable beings that we are. Because it doesn’t make a lick of sense to do so, we don’t even look for a treat hiding in the crevices of that old stone wall; we don’t even look in that direction. But the kids did, yesterday, and they were amply rewarded for doing so. What great treasures are we missing because we look on the same shelves or in the same cupboards and didn’t take a chance to look inside that stone wall or under that old log?
We have to allow life to present its gifts (yes – I was tempted to use “presents”) us in as diverse and unexpected a manner as possible. We limit what we find because we limit where we look. The openness and willingness to allow life to treat them to an egg, even inside a stone wall of all places, is a lesson from which we should all learn. You never know where you will find that next great thing; don’t limit yourself or you will miss out.
In my 20’s, against my better judgement, I decided to go to a meeting of the local amateur archaeological society. I say against my better judgement because I was a long-haired punk (but a nice punk) who really just wanted to find arrowheads. But I only knew of one or two places and they weren’t really panning out. And I thought meeting others who had the same goal might provide me new places to go hunt. But I knew that the average age of the folks there was 60+. They were retired professors or bankers and were, in my expectation, stodgy, condescending, and probably not a whole lot of fun. A means to an end….so I went. And they were delightful; intelligent, funny, wise, amusing, warm, open, welcoming, and kind. They embraced me into their group and together we grew into friendships. I eventually was elected president of the group and that remains one of the greatest honors of my life; being chosen to lead and represent them. My point is, had I never looked in an odd place, never taken the chance to leave the path and walk the stone wall, I’d never have experienced that wonderful gift. Don’t be afraid to look where you’ve never searched before – there may be a wonderful colorful egg hiding there waiting for you!!