The quality of life is determined by its activities.
Waiting is never easy.
As adults, we have the ability to make things happen. We pursue those things we desire and often find satisfaction is seeing things come to fruition. The size and shape of our passions may shift throughout our pursuit, taking on new dimensions and hues, but we eventually find what we seek, recognize them in their altered forms, and embrace them. Having learned the hard lessons about maintaining reasonable expectations with regards to the world around us, we encounter delays and greet them with an attitude that knows fulfillment lingers just around the next bend in the road of life. We grownups weather the storms, frustrated for a time but more or less content in the knowledge that the deluge won’t last forever.
Kids, however, find waiting nearly unbearable. Their goals are black and white. They know what they want, can draw it with stubby crayons using swirling lines and vivid colors that are non-negotiable, and refuse to alter their vision.
For my youngest daughter, her passions look like giraffes. Our local zoo is home to three of these majestic animals, and they are the reason we fork over the funds for a yearly family pass. During our myriad visits over the course of the summer, we spend time in all the different areas of our zoo – with the pigs and ponies at the farm, the kangaroos in the Australian Outback, the Capuchin monkeys in Central Zoo, or with Gus and Tucker, the acrobatic Siamangs in Indonesia – but we seldom leave without traipsing along the African Journey. Zoe’s eyes light up every time we round the corner heading down into the giraffe paddock where Mystic, the most sociable of the giraffes, often hangs out at the fence line, bending her long neck down to accept a leaf of romaine lettuce from Zoe’s outstretched, patient hand. Her smile at seeing this oldest and most gentle of friends is always the highlight of our trip.
Last year, the African Journey got a makeover. While men and women in hard hats drove bulldozers, moving and shaping great mounds of Indiana clay, the entire exhibit was closed to visitors, and the animals were tucked safely in their pens.
And Zoe had to wait.
She bided her time well, writing the giraffes letters decorated with orange and brown borders and drawings of wide open plains, wishing them a peaceful respite filled with memories of sunny days and quiet evenings. More than once, however, she went to bed snuggling tight her stuffed giraffe, waiting for her chance to see her friend again, her heart growing fonder as the days passed by.
This past Friday, the waiting ended . . .
Come along with the Thomas family on a walk through Africa . . .
If Aristotle is right, then the quality of the life of my family goes up several notches with every visit to our local zoo. And seeing Africa again? My daughter agrees it was well worth the wait . . .