jack tracks

At a park near my grandson’s home, I noticed some metal tracks running at a slant along a low cement wall surrounding the play area where the slide, swings, and whatnot were located.  It occurred to me that perhaps the tracks were meant for racing Matchbox cars or Hot Wheels. I also noticed the tracks were a bit dirty and covered with dead leaves from nearby trees.

The next time I visited Jack, I stopped at Target to buy a whiskbroom, some wax paper, and a half-dozen or so Hot Wheels race cars. I packed a cooler with a few toddler-friendly snacks. When my son-in-law, Adam, got home from work, we loaded up his car and drove out to the park to introduce Jack to the joys of Hot Wheels racing.

When we arrived at the park, I busied myself sweeping the dirt and dead leaves from the track. Next, I set about rubbing wax paper along the tracks to give the Hot Wheels a little extra oomph. Adam and I took turns sweeping, waxing, and playing on the slide and swings with my grandson.

Once we had the track ready, it was time to show my grandson just how cool it is to race Hot Wheels! Adam and I lined up the cars and sent them roaring down the now-slick metal tracks. We called, “Jack, look! Watch the cars go!”

Jack had another idea. The whiskbroom was much more interesting to him. He busied himself with the apparently joyful task of sweeping dirt and leaves onto the metal tracks. After a couple of attempts to engage Jack in our Hot Wheels racing, Adam and I gave up, laughed, and enjoyed watching Jack sweep and sweep and sweep. He swept dirt all over those tracks!

I recently reflected back on that day at the park, and thought about it as a metaphor in life. Sometimes we make a plan, prepare for the journey, sweep the path, and even take extra steps (such as using wax paper on a metal track) to ensure things go as smoothly as possible. However, sometimes we find it doesn’t work out the way we thought. In fact, sometimes someone comes along and sweeps dirt onto our path and seemingly blocks the way we had planned to go. Sometimes that person is not a sweet grandson, and sometimes the dirt turns our plans and our journey in an entirely new and unwanted direction.

What do we do then?

We move forward, one day at a time. We take stock. We find that there is love all around us if we look for it. We also see that we still have our broom. On our best days, we use it to keep our side of the street clean because that’s all we can do anyway. On other days we just might jump on that broom and take it for a spin in a direction we’ve never gone before. Our choices are as wide as the sky.

22 comments on “Dirty Tracks”

  1. Boy, that sure is true. I am glad that you guys had the mental agility to recognize your grandson had learned the sweeping lesson and wanted to enjoy that for awhile. You were also aware that a nice day at the park together is the most important thing, not just the ONE PLAN. We all get trapped in our little boxes until something comes along asking us to adapt…

  2. Very insightful. It’s not always what you do but how you do things and how you feel about them. Another lesson in mindful living.

  3. Welcome back! Kids are sort of like cats. Often the box is more interesting than the toy inside. How cool is it that you have a park with a hot wheel track? I bet Jack will like little cars as he grows up.

  4. What a wonderful story, and metaphor. It really makes me think of what my sister is going through right now. Someone has definitely swept the leaves back on her track.

  5. So glad to see you’re back. This is such a sweet and insightful story you’ve shared. We can all learn a lot from Jack.
    BTW: I’ve never seen a matchbox track before—so cool.

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