The year was 1978. I was ten years old. We lived at the top of a hill on a dead end dirt road. There were only three other houses on the street and lots of woods. My friends and I spent the majority of our time outdoors. Sometimes that meant helping our parents with chores like stacking firewood or weeding the garden. I remember every house having an enormous vegetable garden and everyone canning vegetables for storage. I used to eat tomatoes and green beans right off the plant. Homemade Zucchini bread and cucumbers becoming pickles are two smells that always bring back fond memories of my childhood home.
Other times being outside meant playing kickball, riding bicycles or letting our imaginations lead us on incredible adventures into the surrounding forest. One of those adventures led to the discovery of a forgotten cemetery with headstones from the 1700s. Another popped us out into a whole different neighborhood we never knew existed. It was like we discovered another country or something. The woods seemed so vast back then. And the trails we blazed through them became well-worn paths to familiar places. Rocks and trees took on a distinct character all their own. You could plan a meeting at the purple rock or the little pond and everyone knew exactly where to go.
One day my best friend and I were riding our bikes through the trails across from my house. We had a nice track set up. You started at the top of my driveway, crossed the street, hit the dirt mound jump which landed you in the trail, negotiated your way through a patch of trees and some thick brush until it dumped you back out on the road right by home plate of the kickball field.
We were becoming one with the track when suddenly a loud “Ding Ding Ding Ding” could be heard through the whole neighborhood – the fire bell. My friend’s parents had a fire bell on the railing of their back deck. When dinner was ready, they rang the bell. The funny thing was it became the dinner bell for the whole neighborhood. When it rang, everybody went back home to eat.
After dinner that night I was sitting on the front porch watching our dog sniff around the yard when I saw my friend walking back up the road searching the ground. He started retracing our tracks looking intensely for something on the ground. I walked down to investigate.
“What happened,” I said, “Lose something?”
“Yeah, I lost my medal.” He was kind of upset about it.
I knew why right away. His family was Roman Catholic and very religious. He and all three of his brothers wore a medal of St. Christopher around their necks. If he lost it he would’ve been devastated. I joined in the search but the more we looked, the more hopeless it seemed. The road, the trail, the front lawn, it could be anywhere.
Finally I said, “We should just stop looking. You’ll probably find it.”
I had no idea what I was talking about but he stopped searching and looked up at me inquisitively. Then looked back down and there, right on the ground at his feet was the medal. He bent down to pick it up and held it out to show me, completely astonished.
“I found it. I can’t believe it. It was right here!”
At the time we thought nothing of this. We were happy he found his medal and continued on with our day being kids. After that, the story of the found medal was quickly forgotten – until recently.
A few years ago, while I was writing the book, I was trying to help a friend understand what the book was about. Actually, he wanted to know why I believe in Angels, the universal laws and the powerful unseen forces of the universe in general.
This friend is a good person but very set in his ways. He is resistant to change of any kind and one of those folks who believe, if you can’t see it or touch it, it’s not real. But he was trying hard to understand something completely foreign to him. He was trying to understand something he didn’t even believe in because he felt that if he didn’t he could lose something he loved a great deal. What that was is a story for another time. The point is he felt absolutely everything was riding on his ability to “get it”. One night completely out of the blue – even for me – I told him the story of the Found Medal with the hope he would see that he didn’t have to try so hard.
The next day the two of us were riding dirt bikes with another friend. We left from his house to search for a trail we knew was out there somewhere – yes, thirty something years later and we are still blazing trails and playing in the woods. During our trek through the backwoods we stopped to rest and my friend realized he had lost a foot peg off of his vintage two-wheel drive bike. All three of us starting looking for this small black part on the ground that was covered with leaves and twigs right next to a creek we had just crossed. Not finding it meant one of us would have a very long and difficult ride out of there.
Hmmm, I almost couldn’t believe how familiar this situation was or the fact that, just yesterday I remembered this childhood story and told it to my friend.
With a huge smile on my face I said, “We should stop looking for it. It’ll probably just show up.”
My friend who was kicking leaves and twigs around frantically looking for this thing stopped and looked at me with a sarcastic grin remembering the story I told him the night before. Then he looked back at the ground, bent down and picked up his foot peg. Everything went still for a moment. I could see the light inside of him trying to get past the look of disbelief on his face but he wouldn’t let it. He didn’t want to admit that something he couldn’t explain just happened. In his mind, it was just a coincidence. In my heart I knew there’s no such thing.
The universe allowed me to witness this same experience twice. It must be an important message. And I think I finally know what it is. In a word – Allowing.
Allowing is not the opposite of trying but the opposite of fighting. Fighting the negative only increases negativity by giving it more energy. When you feel anxious, worried or attached to a specific outcome, you become defensive and put up walls, walls that keep positive energy away. You are sending out a feeling of “this has to happen or else”. If you have faith, feel safe, peaceful and trusting inside, the walls come down and positive energy flows to you with ease and grace.
I’ll always remember the look on my friend’s face when he found his foot peg. It was the same look my childhood friend had when he found the medal. The same light was shining in both their eyes, easy for a ten-year old kid, not always easy for an adult. But it should be.
I think we should all be our ten-year old selves again and stop over thinking everything. We can be responsible without taking things so damn seriously all the time. Adventure, explore, discover and allow life to be the miracle it is.
I’ll meet you at the purple rock!