Tuesday, July 2, 2013

At the Ready

Get Ready, Get Set, Go! These words stir thoughts of a thrilling competition. I don’t consider myself an athlete by any stretch of the definition. But, at the times in my life that I’ve heard these words, I enjoyed that moment in the starting blocks. Very rarely did I cross the finish line ahead of everyone else. But at the beginning, there was that exhilarating feeling of possibility, the chance that if I really did my best, I could excel.

The military term for this moment is “At the Ready”. It implies more than just standing with your toe behind the line and waiting for a gunshot. Being ready takes planning, conditioning, and being aware of your surroundings.

 In years past, I played tennis. The posture you must assume for that game involves every part of your body being ready to move. Feet and legs tense, arms and hands flexible, eyes darting from side to side. Anticipation is the watchword. Most recently, I have played tennis in my living room, with the help of a video game system. This requires even more awareness. Movements need not be so large, especially if you treasure that lamp on the end table.

The feeling of being prepared for anything has served me well in other areas of my life. Anyone who has raised more than two children at a time can tell you that the addition of the third one changes the whole vibe of parenthood. With a pair of offspring, a team of adults can divide the duties, or when necessary, manage both charges reasonably easily. With only two eyes, two ears, two hands each, it is much more difficult to shepherd three. My hubby and I would divide the threesome by age:  “You watch the big-un, and I’ll take the littluns” or by gender:  “The princess is with me. You’re in charge of the boys.”

Moms become very good at multi-tasking. We have to be make three different sack lunches, load three backpacks, locate three band instruments, all while monitoring wardrobes as they head out the door for the day’s adventure. A sixth sense kicks in when there is a disturbance in the force.  Nothing surprises us. A case in point, I was standing at the back of the sanctuary one Sunday, right hand outstretched to greet the minister when a sticky, slimy glob landed in the palm of my hand. As a tousled head passed between us, I smoothly replaced the hand that had become the receptacle for leftover chewing gum with the other, fresher hand. All’s well that ends well.

Evidently, our whole family appreciates this sensation of alert flexibility. Hubby is enjoying a new job after 34 years of becoming accustomed to the old one. All three nest leavers are thriving in their own, ever changing environments.

A benefit of my previous career is that I count myself as a relatively tech-savvy baby boomer. Having witnessed the transition from piles of paper and banks of filing cabinets to computer based, and even wireless data storage, I’m not nearly as intimidated by the inevitable changes.

One highlight of that career found me in Baltimore, Maryland, where we were to  explain our system to totally blind users. My co-workers and I had spent months becoming acquainted with software that reads the screens aloud. We were confident that we could guide these people who were unfamiliar with our system and assure them that other users would be successful as well. Surprise! The students actually schooled the teachers.  They were so proficient at using this tool that they pointed out features of the software that we never knew existed. Undaunted, we drew on the long hours of preparation, and addressed each issue. Upon returning to Arkansas, no computer glitch would ever again get the best of us!

So it was with confidence that I undertook my latest “day job”. I serve as a trainer in an area that has never had one. No permanent classroom, no desk manual. I am drawing on the expertise of those who know the system inside and out to teach others who are totally new. With my “user eyes” I’m distilling the wealth of knowledge into a usable form, and trying to dispense it at just the right rate. I tell my newbies that I am their “go-to” person, because I know who to go to.

At this stage in life, I thought I would be relaxing more, spending time doing comfortable, familiar things. Realistically, though, very little about life these days is comfortable or familiar. Change comes so rapidly that our heads are often spinning. That’s really okay. Learning new things never ends, and we must constantly be aware of our surroundings. It keeps us alert, flexible, young. I’m thankful I don’t have to do it alone. With my soul mate by my side, and God’s word to keep me grounded, I’m ready.