Up ahead a family was stopped in the other lane. A boy of maybe 7 or 8 sat on the pavement sobbing, his sister(perhaps a year or two older) looked as though she'd like to keep going. An older woman stood, hands on hips, several yards ahead, while a man stood bent over the boy. My first thought was that they boy was hurt, but as I got closer, I noticed that he simply looked exhausted. He sat with his roller blade clad feet strewn apart, chest heaving and head in hands. His sobs seemed to anger the woman, whose hands on hips stance spoke her expectation that he would get up and keep going. As I approached, I was able to make out his words. "I'm sorry. I'm just so tired. I was having so much fun, but then I didn't think about having to go back." Like so many of us, the boy had likely tried to keep up, tagging along with his sister, getting caught up in the feeling of wind on his face and scenery blurring as he glided along. And then, as fatigue set in, he realized he hadn't reserved the energy required for the trip back.
My heart ached for him as he fought for control of his emotions. And then my heart swelled as I watched the man standing over him, (probably his grandfather), place his hands on the boy's cheeks and wipe his tears. Without a word, the man put an arm under the boy's knees and one under his shoulders, cradling him and carrying him as though it was effortless. The woman clucked her disapproval, as the man turned and began the journey back carrying the boy. I wasn't close enough to hear the man's words, but I was sure they weren't belittling or disparaging. I imagined him whispering encouragement, reassuring the child that we all get tired sometimes. I watched them plod along as the sister and grandmother walked and skated ahead.
Magically, my thoughts turned from the spinning to do list in my head, and focused instead on the wonder of love. Like that boy, we all sometimes forget to pace ourselves, hitting a wall of fatigue. Like that woman, we all become frustrated at times when things don't move at our pace. Like the grandfather, we are asked in each moment to stop and hear the cries of those around us who are simply too tired to go on. It's up to us which response we will have. Will we scoop the child up and cradle him, or place our hands on our hips and berate him? And when we become too tired to go further, will we allow ourselves to be carried? I hope so.