Walk Like You Know Where You’re Going

The Fairmont Banff Springs has to be one of the loveliest hotels in
the world. Built in the 19th century, it is one of Canada’s grand railway
hotels, built in the Scottish Baronial style in our first national park, located
in the Rockies.
One weekend the family decided to take the Springs up on
a special they were offering and spend a couple of days in what we thought
must surely be the very definition of luxury.
Well, it was luxurious. And very, very large. Scottish barons must
have really liked a lot of corridors and ballrooms with big fireplaces because
there were a lot of them there and when you take a couple of turns,
they all start looking the same. We managed to navigate the route to our
spacious room because the chap at the desk kindly gave us a map. More
than a few heads turned as we proceeded with six kids, all loaded down
with backpacks and dragging their favorite blankets.
When we left the room, bound for the swimming pool, we accidentally
left that map behind. I thought I knew where I was going, but
after a few back tracks and turns, Greg took over and said, somewhat
peevishly, “Just follow me.”images
He marched off and the rest of us had to move very quickly to keep
up with his long strides. After jogging along in one direction for a time, I
began to recognize a few landmarks, and it occurred to me that we might
be heading in the wrong direction. However he walked like he knew where
he was going, so we gamely trotted after until, arriving at the final long
ballroom and giant fireplace, we all came to a dead stop. Puffing breathlessly
with the kids, I looked at him accusingly.
“I figured you didn’t know where you were going” I said testily.
“Well then why did you follow me?”
“Because you walked like you knew where you were going” I said,
arms folded.
And this, by the way, has been a catch phrase for us ever since. If
you walk like you know where you’re going, people will follow you. If
you talk like you know what you’re saying, people, particularly kids, will
believe you. Well, that’s a hopeful theory, and one that can be quite
handy when employed to convince them of such things as their teeth falling
out if they aren’t brushed frequently, or hurting themselves if they
leap off high objects. Kids just aren’t afraid of things like that, which
leads me back to our search for the pool.
When we finally found it – or rather them, as there is both an indoor
and an outdoor pool at the hotel, we organized the kids so that each
of the older had a younger one to watch, and each of us parents had all six
to watch. As three of them could not yet swim, we were very careful to ensure
that they were with someone who could. And yet, not careful enough
as once we were in the outdoor pool, Greg suddenly said, “Where’s Eddie?”
It gives one a very bad feeling to hear that.
We all gave a quick search, and then started calling. No response
led to everyone in the pool suddenly looking around. Finally someone
pointed up and said, “Is that him?”
And there was Eddie, perched on the lifeguard’s chair, having
climbed the tall ladder up. And he was getting ready to jump into
about 5 feet of water below.
As I splashed toward the spot below the chair, Greg leaped out of
the water and started to climb the ladder; both of us yelling “Don’t jump!
Eddie, don’t jump!
Greg managed to coax the little waif back down the ladder and
when they got to the bottom, asked him “Eddie, what were you thinking?
You can’t swim!”
With a shrug of his shoulders he replied, “You would-a saved
me Dad”.
There was just no fear. On his part anyway. Perhaps children
frighten us because they have no fear.
I love that about them.
It sure takes a lot of faith to raise a parent through childhood.

2 responses to “Walk Like You Know Where You’re Going

  1. Brilliant! Just priceless! Your closing line says it all! I learned the truth of “Walk Like You Know Where You’re Going” when I was 15 and it has shaped my life ever since. Here’s my story:
    At my grandparents’ 45th anniversary all of us 26 grandkids put on a “talent show”. My 13 year old sister and I were performing the Charleston on stage when I had a memory slip and jumped to the next “verse” in the choreography. I realized my mistake in two beats when I saw what she was doing, but before I could switch to the correct sequence, she joined in with me. Then, through some sort of sister-telepathy, we went back to the missed sequence in the next verse and everything was fine as we danced and smiled our way through it. When we got off stage I asked her, “Why did you switch to what I was doing when it was my mistake?” And she replied, “But you always look like you know what you are doing.”
    I never forgot that lesson and it has helped me out of some very tight spots over the years. Sort of like the “Whistle A Happy Tune” song in The King and I. Thank you, Faye, for reminding us of the wisdom to be found in stories.

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