This is the response I get from my four year old daughter when I try to explain to her why I’m sad that she’s spilled Hawaiian Punch on the carpet. Her mom is walking back and forth shaking her head declaring that the child will never drink Hawaiian Punch again. I’m trying not to laugh as I explain that carpet, and the cleaning of carpet, is not free. Confused, my daughter gives me this puzzled look and proceeds to leave the room carrying a doll by its hair in one hand and a leopard printed blanket in the other.
In the distance I can hear her say, “I have five dollars.”
“Five dollars.” I’m down on all fours trying to scrub this bright red spot out of light grey carpet. My wife continues to explain to me that the last time we got the carpet cleaned we had to pay a whole lot extra to get out the red spots. For good measure, she throws in that she never wanted light grey carpet. “Five dollars, ha!”
My smile is now gone. The spot is not. I get up and plop back into the bed hoping that the child starts to love lemonade and water because who knows how long it will be before anything red makes it out of the kitchen.
In that moment, my mind goes all the way back to the search for my home. How I wrestled with lenders, went to multiple locations, and viewed numerous floor plans. I can’t count how many drives I made to the same location to look at the same place over and over and over again. I think of the money I had to put down on the place and how this amount ballooned right before I was supposed to close. Thankfully I had the difference.
The first moment I was handed me keys.
I vividly remember walking into the house alone. I closed the door, smelled the fresh paint, and looked down at the grey carpet! Next, I jumped up and down, ran in circles, yelled, “Thanked God”, and collapsed in the middle of the empty living room totally out of breath. On that day this same carpet felt like fine silk against my skin.
It cost a lot more than five dollars to get that positive rush of emotions. There were so many moving parts that went into the final outcome that I dare not try to share them all.
In opportunity cost, I’ve spent a priceless amount with the intent of creating a home for my family. I’d heard quite a few stories of people who have attained the same things I possess. None of them are exactly like mine. In too many cases, they walked right into what they wanted. No hiccups. No visual struggles. No setbacks.
Looking back to where I’ve been, and understanding where I want to go, I am still grateful. I know through all my shortcomings, failures, false steps, and stumbles I was paying for something else.
What are you paying for?
I’ve concluded that all along I was paying the price to one day be able to inspire others with my life stories. Sure, it’s cute to share the setbacks of others but its not the same as imparting firsthand experiences. Through my few years on this planet I’ve acquired quite a backdrop in which to frame my understanding of a “good” or a “bad” day.
There are many people that declare they want to change the world. They want to inspire a nation. They want to infuse hope into an entire generation. The reality is the most inspirational stories are the ones with the most conflict, grief, and despair before the victorious finish.
So, what does it cost?
I pose the question, do we really know what we’re asking for when we ask to be inspirational? Maybe I’m just as confused about the price to inspire others as my daughter is about the cost to clean carpet: it’s a foreign concept because we’ve both always had a higher source paying our way.
With squinting eyes I keep asking the same questions. What will it take to spin my readers out of a downward spiral? What sentences can I craft that will turn a life disaster into a stepping stone? What level of transparency must I reach to realign the thinking of some one who has convinced themself that they will never achieve their dreams? What DOES it cost?
Whatever the amount, in the spirit of my daughter Kezia,“I GOT FIVE ON IT!”
(My daddy can cover the rest.)