As I mentioned in a previous post, I recently took a trip to Washington D.C. to visit a friend. I have gone to D.C. at least half a dozen times, and for some reason I had never been able to go and see the White House. My friend and I happened to be a few blocks away from it, so we walked over to it. When we got up to the gates and we saw the White House, the first words that I muttered were, “That’s it? That is the White House?” For some reason, I wasn’t impressed with it.I was living in Philadelphia at the time, so I was used to seeing large historic looking buildings juxtaposed with modern day buildings. In all of the movies and pictures that I had seen that featured the White House, it was this majestic, huge building with lots of decorative touches. Instead, what I saw looked rather small, and it had one singular fountain out front shooting a stream of water into the air. I felt disappointed.
As we were getting ready to walk away, this little girl and her father came and stood right next to us. They were speaking completely in French, but I understand French so I was able to follow their conversation. The little girl grasped onto the metal bars of the gate surrounding the White House, hoisted herself up to her tip toes and began to have the following conversation with her father.
Girl: Papa! Is that it?? Is that the White House??
Father: Yes little one, that is the White House.
Girl: <Gasps> Oh my goodness. It is so beautiful. So, so beautiful!
Father: Yes, it is my darling.
<Girl continues to stand there slack jawed, oohing and awing at the White House.>
In that moment, I took a step back and thought about what I had just witnessed. Here I was lamenting that the White House wasn’t what I expected it to be because it differed from what I was told it would be like, and here was this little girl who so innocently took the time and appreciated the White House for how she was seeing it in that moment.
It was a quick reality check! I was spending so much time trying to match my expectations up to those that others had rather than taking a moment and appreciating the building for what it really was. If I had been less critical of it, I would have seen that it was perfectly illuminated against the backdrop of a star speckled D.C. evening sky. If I closed my eyes, I would have been able to smell the sweet fragrance of the flowers surrounding the property that were undoubtedly temporarily hidden due to the darkness outside.
All in all it was a reminder to live in amazement and wonder, just like children do every day.