“Presence is the straight and narrow gate through which one passes to Wisdom.”
Cynthia Bourgeault, The Wisdom Way of Knowing
When being present is as easy as enjoying a morning cup of coffee while listening to the doves cooing outside or retiring to bed after finishing a good read, life is light. Sign me up for living life in the present moment! This is the easy part.
It takes far more effort to be present when the kids plead for us to come play outside with them. How could any decent parent deny a request for “tickle tag,” especially when the little boy is positively giddy with excitement? Somehow we compromised and ended up outside in the garden while the kids played. Promise of a weekend bonfire guaranteed more time together outdoors.
The effort to be present when the kids are screaming and arguing all around, when cleaning up all their garbage from the past weeks in the van (including leftover pancake and peanut butter — how long ago was that?!?), when at the end of the day no one has really done their chores or wants to do anything else, is supremely difficult for me. I want the moment to be over. I want to get to the moment that will be more enjoyable.
See. That’s my laziness. I don’t mind being present, mindful, what-have-you, so long as it doesn’t take too much energy on my part. Admitting you have a problem is the first step, right? But I realize there’s no growth in that. I have consciously boosted my awareness to include the more difficult moments.
Now, what might seem incredibly difficult for you probably isn’t for me. I’m a doula; some of my greatest gifts for calm and comfort come in what can be highly stressful situations. I’m not easily grossed out or afraid of the truly tragic. (Now, if someone beside me smells bad in the checkout line, I will likely make my “stinky face.”) My most difficult lessons surround an appreciation and respect for myself and for those nearest and dearest to me, namely, my children.
I love being a student, though. Regarding my children as the best teachers I’ve ever had increases my appreciation and respect for them. One day they will understand this because I’m quite certain that right now they don’t!
So for now I’ll enjoy the present, realizing that time truly flies. I led the La Leche League meeting yesterday without any children in tow. I shared that my three-year-old had stayed the night with a friend, much to some shock, I’m sure. But a fourth child brings a new level of letting go into the process of parenting. I’m fully aware, though, that enjoying the present moment also means letting go of attachments. I don’t have a baby anymore. My oldest is a pre-teen. The children are growing and changing every day. I do myself and them a favor by savoring the time we share, the lessons we learn.
Wisdom is all around us.