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(photo by: Alex Pham)

 

I have a memory. I was a little girl and my mom was going to the grocery store. I asked her if my friend and I could go to the park and play in the wading pool while she went to get groceries. She agreed and dropped us off.

When we arrived, the park attendant told us we couldn’t play in the water with regular clothing. We needed a bathing suit.

My mom had already left so now what are we going to do?

I had a great idea and thought we could walk over to my neighbor’s house and swim in her pool. My plan was to call my mom at the grocery store and ask them to page her and I’d let her know where we were – once we arrived at my neighbor’s.

Off we go, walking. We walked and walked. At last, arrived. I called to leave a message at the grocery store, as planned, but they couldn’t locate my mom. This didn’t faze me. And we continued with our plan to swim.

Yep, that’s my story.

Imagine my mom’s rendition! The panic. The fear. Is her little girl safe? She’s responsible for my friend, too! She doesn’t know where I am. She couldn’t find me. What thoughts were racing through her head?

My perception of who I was as a child is a bit of a footloose kid. I didn’t think through my decisions fully. I would go with the flow. Adjust. Adapt. Roll with the punches.   To not be fazed was normal. My lens was full of adventure and wonder. I was the “ok sure” tag-along. I wasn’t the leader; I was definitely the follower. I would get lost in my imaginary world and create worlds that didn’t exist. I created pretend stories. And since I can remember, life was good and I was blessed with a carefree nature. However, I wasn’t passive and docile. I had lots of energy. A tomboy. A handful, sometimes…

Thinking on this memory, was I carefree or careless?

I’ve been thinking about the paradox of these words. And my answer is, “Yes, both.”

I would imagine from my mom’s perspective, I was completely careless. But from my perspective I was carefree.

My mom’s lens might be: “Karen was not thoughtful of how her behavior affected others.”

My lens is: “We’ll figure it out. All will be well.”

My mom’s lens might be: “If Karen would have taken a bit more time to think through her options, we wouldn’t have experienced this gut-wrenching fear.”

There is a price to being carefree. The reality is, it’s a paradox. With my carefree nature, I also have a careless nature.

For example, I’ve had to replace my mobile phone three times in one year. My phone drops from my hand and falls out of my bag because I won’t take the time to care for it properly.  In the last 3 years I’ve broken 7 phones. That’s a 7:1 ratio compared to my friends.

Carelessness vs Carefreeness. They co-exist in my world.

I don’t want to forfeit my carefree spirit for the sake of over-thinking. But I do want to be carefree with more thoughtfulness.

– Karen Thrall