Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Sliding through life, unaware

My wise children have taught me the value 
of being present, enjoying life's small gifts
It's easy to slide through the day, achieving things yet being entirely absent. I'm sure you know how it is. You focus on checking off the items on your "to-do" list with such gusto that you fail to notice what's happening around you. You check your iPhone for emails as you wait in line at the grocery store. You make mental lists for tomorrow's meeting while driving the kids to school. You watch television or listen to the radio as you prepare dinner.

I must admit I do a lot of "hmm hmming" and "yesing" while my children rattle on about who knows what. I'm busy writing paragraph 3 of chapter 2 in my latest manuscript, rearranging words in my head. I have no clue what they are talking about.

But, over the last few years, I've been making a concerted effort to be present, to turn off life's distractions and soak up the activity around me. It's not easy, but being present fills me with a sense of calm, and it allows me to pause and realize the joy and gratitude I feel for my children, my family, the beautiful neighborhood I live in, my work, the sunny weather, the neighbor's tulips.

Turning it all off can be difficult, but it's worth the effort. It is precisely the small, seemingly insignificant moments that have the power to turn my day around and remind me of what's really important. Those moments bring immediate joy, yet they also provide me with the precious memories I will cling to when life throws its dirty tricks my way.

Here's a sampling of some of my children's ideas, which they share freely when I lend them my undivided attention.  Their thoughts and words are permanently stamped in the memory book I store deep in my heart.  It is a well used and living volume, tattered from use.  I plan to add to it, every day if possible:

  • Mom, I'm afraid to go outside with my camouflage shorts on.  What if you can't find me at dinner time?
  • When I was a baby inside of you I ate all of your leftover crumbs, right?
  • The water from the shower comes down pretty hard.  What if it pushes me down the drain?
  • You have to get married.  If you don't, you won't be able to eat any cake.
  • I never want to get married.  When I grow up I want to live with you, just like you live with Nana.  (While this comment is completely counter to the American way, the idea of my daughter living with me in old age warms my heart).
  • When I go to heaven I'm not going to float around.  I'm going to go straight to Aunt Janet and tell her I missed her.
  • Don't tell him I told you, but I think Daddy is going to take you to the subway station to eat Cheez-Its for your anniversary

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