Every once in while my daughter will say something in a particular way that makes me stop for a moment and take inventory. It could be a certain phrase, an outlook or just an expression on her face. I'm sure it happens to all of us, as we realize that these people we call our kids are more than just extensions of our own thoughts, dreams and ambitions.
To be sure, it's not exactly messionic for her to say something astonishing, her being a doctor and all. It's not about the encyclopedic knowledge stored up there somewhere on her hard drive. It's more about the attitude and the way she sees herself as a part of the world around her.
Like all of us, she faces hard choices from time to time and like all of us, she can't get the answers on Google or even from her old man, anymore. Her current dilemma involves some interesting career choices, but it was the way she described that dilemma to me that gave me pause. She said that if such and such occurred, she would be "in a pickle". Really, just like that.
The first thing that made my ears tingle was that phrase, "in a pickle". I had never heard her say anything like that before. It was a calm and rational way of describing the recurring game that life plays with us. Tough choices, no easy answers. She may have been freaking out on the inside, but found a non-freaking out way to express it.
Layered onto that phrase was a wistfulness and maturity that I had not heard before, either. A recognition of the difficulty all of us face at each and every fork in the road. For me, it was that moment of clarity, the one that seems to come along so infrequently. I am no longer tasked with solving the world's problems, but I am invited along for the process.
I hope my work isn't yet done, but I see this as a small step for mankind and a small lesson learned for both of us. As my daughter, the doctor might say, "Life is a pickle barrel". It doesn't matter how many you eat, there's always another pickle in the barrel.