One of the great things about little Emmy being three years old now is how many "family things" she is able to join in on. One of her favorites is family game night, which typically involves Yahtzee, CandyLand, or her favorite, Chutes and Ladders. Remember that game, where you might get lucky and land on the square with the really tall ladder, and you got to climb way up, passing all of the other players with hopes of getting to the finish line first? And then there were the times that you landed at the top of a very long slide and had to go all the way back down to nearly the start square. Even now, I get pretty upset and will mutter an "Oh Shoot!" when I have to slide down -- I seriously think the game should be called "Shoots and Ladders" (but only because "Damn It and Ladders" just doesn't have the same ring and probably isn't age appropriate). At this age, Emmy isn't concerned about winning, so she doesn't care if she is going up or down. She has a little sound effect for both, and I would guess she thinks chuting is actually more fun than laddering, though up or down, she's having a great time.
I'm writing this post from a cramped economy seat of a United Airlines flight heading to the first of multiple stops over the next 26 hours. Dallas to Houston to Tokyo to Singapore. One of my dearest friends-but-more-like-a-sister lives in Singapore, and I can't express how therapeutic, inspiring, grounding, and comforting it is to spend time with her. It has been 4 years since I've seen her on Asian soil, so Santa was nice enough to gift me with a trip for Christmas. About 36 hours after I arrive in Singapore, we are boarding another flight to Phnom Penh, Cambodia to serve at a Center that brings rest, recovery, hope, safety, and dignity to some of the most discarded children in the world. If you are unfamiliar with the horrific child trafficking issues in Cambodia, I encourage you to do some research. It will unsettle you and make you ask, "What can be done?" and maybe even, "What can I do?"
I'm expecting a lot of Chutes and Ladders on this trip - the downward plunge of seeing the worst of what humanity has to offer, and the elated hope of witnessing how simple acts of love and sacrifice can change someone's outlook on the world and their future.
Albert Einstein wrote, "There are two important days in our lives - the day we are born and the day we realize why." I can't say I've discovered the ultimate reason why, on November 27th, forty-ish years ago, I was brought into the world, but I suspect it was partly to help the world have less Chutes and more Ladders. The hardest part of that mission is that there are very few hard things in my little world. My girls' biggest complaints over the last week have been not getting to watch Frozen every single day, feet aching from pointe shoes, getting a boy's toy in the Happy Meal instead of one for girls, kids being rude at school, and having to wash dishes. As a Mom, I must admit there is a huge part of me that is glad those are the most severe things my girls have to worry about. We could have just as easily been born into the poverty and despair of Cambodia, with the choice of having to sell one of our children haneously into an evil, harmful, and shameful industry or watch our other children starve. I don't know why I was born into this relatively luxurious life, but I'm starting to understand that it comes with grave responsibility to help those who can't help themselves. When we step back and see all the pain in the world, it can be overwhelming - maybe even stifling- and we don't know where to begin. I personally don't believe that one person can change the world, but I do believe that one person can change a life. And if we all look for opportunities to change one life, collectively we will end up changing the world, one Ladder at a time.