Wednesday, September 23, 2009

here at the right time

I spent this afternoon with a fellow writer friend of mine who had an adorable baby boy nearly 4 months ago (well, his wife did the "having" but now he is staying home with the little guy). We wandered around the farmer's market in Union Square and then settled into City Bakery (ah, lovely afternoon) for some conversation while the baby slept. We talked about everything from our yoga practice to what we're reading and writing and then we sort of hit on a fairly interesting subject...guilt when it comes to happiness. 

Let me explain. I am one of the lucky fools who really loves what they do but being the type A (perhaps B now) person that I am I find it difficult to feel accomplished when I take some time off. I work from home so my time is always in my hands. If I decide to do nothing all day Wednesday, that's fine, I just need to figure out where and when I will make the hours up. I love running my own schedule but I find it difficult sometimes to enjoy the time I'm not working, so focused I am on not having my nose to the grind. Perhaps it's New York, perhaps it's me, it doesn't really matter. The point is: who came up with the rule that unless you're frantic and busy you haven't earned the right to indulge in happiness? 

My friend was sharing that initially when he decided to stay home with the baby he was a bit harried. "What will I do in 5 years when he starts school full-time?" "What if my writing hasn't taken off yet?" But as the moments at home stretched to days and weeks he began to focus on the supreme blessing of, well, being at home. He started to talk about the beautiful things about being a father and about how if he doesn't get his page count in for the day or something pops up it's OK, because he is enjoying spending time with his son. I was right there with him and for the next hour we weren't two writers on break from our work but two friends who understood that life isn't about accomplishing one thing or the other. It's simply about this moment. 

Children are so good at getting us to see this. They are so good at the momentary experience, it is all that exists for them. Without the incessant internal dialogue of the mind they are free to just be. here. now. It's remarkable. I am reminded constantly by my students to just be present. If my mind slips into the future or the past for just a moment, they know, and they make it abundantly clear they are aware I am no longer with them. 

There is a balance of course and the proverbial pendulum always swings. We need to work. We need to be productive. We need to give of ourselves and provide a service in the world. We also need to be present. What I realized in speaking to my friend today is that the greatest service we CAN give is to be present...both in our own lives for ourselves and the people we hold dear. When we are really focused on the task at hand we are not only more aware but we are also more productive. All our faculties are going to making this one thing (experience, project, person) the best it can be. 

"Live in the moment" sounds so cliche and this is a blog about literacy, not a self-help seminar but I would encourage you to take the motto to heart, even if just for the day. Notice how the children in your life live by this. If you let them, they'll teach you. You just have to listen. 

1 comment:

  1. this is wonderful, we can learn so much from children. thanks!