A to Z Challenge: N is for Next


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I watched Marie, then a toddler, try to pick up all her toys in one armful. She lost a stuffed bear or ball every time she added play food or a doll.

CD az challengeFor the A to Z Challenge today, N is for Next. It’s in homage to growth, progress, and the journey, not just the destination. Next makes me think of Marie’s toddler struggle that day, although I’m sure she doesn’t remember it.

Her flowing brown hair fell in her face as she tried.

She lost her balance and toppled to the side. Everything fell to the ground. I stayed back. She tried again. She got close. She lost things again. Then, after more struggle, I could see it. Her endeavor shifted.

She wrapped her arms around her toys, adding more and holding it together.

She didn’t get everything in her arms that day, but she got enough.

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I’ve found Next happen for my soccer players who master a move or score their first goal. I notice it in my daughters, who progress beyond my ability to coach them in the sport they love. I celebrate it in writers who grow with their words and unlock another Next.

Next often comes with complications.

It’s a smooth road turned curvy turned gravel and mud. It’s good health interrupted. It’s a slow descent, recognizable and seemingly inevitable.

It’s also a call, an email, a chance conversation that changes it all. Even if you make out the shape of Next, you might not detect its colors and textures yet. That’s okay. Next often emerges in brilliance we couldn’t have created on our own.

Tamara of Tamara (Like) Camera blog wrote of Life’s Awfully Big Adventure. The Adventure comes with more moving parts than Marie had toys. Elements stick and slip, settle in and stick out. When you labor to get your arms around it, you can’t see your Next.

As with Marie and my soccer players, I see the Next. I see it with better clarity than I see it for myself. I sit back and appreciate your journey to Next.

What about me?

My challenge: To be a good man, a role model and strength bearer, a confidant and protector and teacher, to my girls. To coach and guide, become a trusted corner, despite what my life’s record says about me.

My adventure: Living and learning it, growing myself, writing it in a blog that will be around for them long after I’m gone. It’s all in the next post, the next day, the next way to live my own challenge and adventure.

And try, like my little Marie, to wrap my arms around it.

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24 Replies to “A to Z Challenge: N is for Next”

  1. I love this!! Thanks so much for sharing your heart here. I am enjoying your perspective on your girls- they are lucky young women!! Blessings on your blog and your family!!

  2. Thanks so much, Eli. That quote at the end was for me today. My Dad sold the family beach house at Palm Beach today and we move out for good in 3 weeks. I feel guttered in so many ways but I am telling myself that something super good must be just around the corner. Life doesn’t end here. New opportunities will come. It will be okay.

  3. This is excellent, Eli — I love the metaphor of wisdom, and you are a really good writer. I think some of our best writers are sports writers, and you are among those. I am so glad you visited my blog and we connected. I really like your concise, sharp, witty writing. I have shared your “Next” post on my Facebook page, carol.child.7. My real name is Carol Child, my pen name is Samantha Mozart.

    1. Thank you – that’s high praise from a published writer. I’ve always felt sportwriters who stayed true to the art of writing seemed to tell a better story than those who got caught up in hype writing (thanks for that, ESPN!)

      Glad we connected through the A to Z Challenge, and I look forward to reading more of you. I used the Hemingway app for a while. My sentences got shorter and sharper as a result, I think. (And that’s the only Hemingway trait I seemed to pick up.)

      Thanks so much for the Facebook share, too. Great to meet you, Carol.

  4. This is a wonderful post, Eli! I’m so impressed. I came over to say thank you for the follow and now I find I can’t leave! So instead, I’m going to thank you for finding me so I can share your Next too!

    1. Thank you! It was great to find your blog in the A to Z Challenge. Stick around a while – there’s always plenty of snacks around here.

      Glad you can be part of my Next!

  5. Of course the best “next” is what happens after a goal is achieved – a new chapter. But we have to know that sometimes that “next” will be a challenge to overcome. I just love how your A to Z Challenge makes us all think about a topic from so many different angles.

  6. Funny because I barely remember that post and it’s not even that long ago. It was an adventure to open it back up again and try to channel what I was thinking when I wrote it.
    Truly I write with a force beyond my control. Each post is like a new me. A next me.
    Thank you.

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