There are times we all benefit from revisiting old stories. My turn came Saturday as my niece decided we were going to watch Elf together. For some reason Buddy’s childlike behavior stood out more than ever before. He’s truly a child in a man’s body, and despite my adult irritation at some of his antics, I found myself becoming a student of his freedom. So, today, especially as an aspiring creator who needs a little more freedom, I’d like to share a few lessons I’m learning from Buddy the elf.
- Be fearless! Sometimes we need to leave home, go someplace new and walk like we own the place. The unknown isn’t something worthy of our fear.
- A little ignorance can be a good thing. Some of the best things happen because Buddy doesn’t know any better. I have found myself really thinking about Buddy’s seeming disregard of consequences. For example, his labor of love for Santa at Gimbel’s destroys a few hundred dollars worth of pillows to make snow. But, as I think about it, I realize it is not disregard for consequences. Like a couple little ones I know very well, he is simply ignorant of the consequences. He doesn’t understand yet, and as a result he makes something amazing!
- Make mistakes, and learn from them. We might not like Buddy’s example of playing in traffic, but it shows us he learns from his mistakes. He survived his encounter with a New York cab, and he remembered it. “The yellow ones don’t stop.”
- Give things a chance to be what they claim to be (or Don’t be too quick to judge). “World’s best coffee.” It might not be, but why not taste it to find out if it’s a “crappy cup of coffee” or not? If we assume it’s a lie, then we’ll never know. The same is true of people. I’d rather trust first and find out later that I was wrong to trust them, than distrust everyone and never get the chance to know them.
- Love courageously. I am not going to bother to count the number of times Buddy says “I love you”. Over and over again he looks for ways to show he cares. He’s not embarrassed by his feelings, and that’s something incredible.
- Accept the love of others. Sometimes love is easier to give than receive. Buddy shows us the power of receiving a caring word when we’re down. I know I’ve struggled to trust the voices of love in my life in the past, especially when I can’t see what they see in me. They encourage us when we’re not so sure who we are anymore, whether that be an aspiring author or a human elf.
So, I hope that we might become a little more like Buddy. Maybe we should be a bit more childlike ourselves. May we live courageously, fearing less, boldly experiencing all life has for us, and learning to love and be loved along the way.