Friday, March 21, 2008

Slow it.

Thanks, everybody, for the great comments and additions to the last post.  Lovely stories.

We do read at bedtime, too. Smidgen is a high-energy kid, and takes a lot of winding-down; so we entice her with a story (ok, or 2) first, then songs. She's listened her way all through Charlotte's Web, Redwall, and the first 3 Little House Books now.  Took a few tries to get her past the point of wanting to flip to the next picture, but she's there.

It's a big chunk of time, every day. And every once in a while, I find myself nudging myself about some chore that's still waiting - "hurry this up, for crying out loud; it's taking forever, and X is bloody urgent, and you know it..."

X IS bloody urgent. But this is where this sleep ritual turns into training for the parent; of a particularly forceful and valuable kind.

Most times, it's relatively easy to look at the almost sleeping child and see- what's REALLY the most important thing here.  And the most ephemeral.

I'm blessed to have 2 grown sons with whom I get along very well; they were best men at my wedding, for crying out loud.  My head knows, and remembers, the joy I had in their babyhood; the snuggles, tears, discoveries, bandaids and songs.

Oh, but- my body does not remember, not really.  Until - I feel the small warm fingers of this present Smidgen in my hand, and listen to her breathing quiet, and hear her very small yawn.

Then, I can physically flash back- and fully recapture; I had this same moment, with both boys, at one time or another.  It was so precious, and so fleeting.  It makes me try harder to fix this current moment in memory- to hang on to it.  It makes me KNOW- in the deepest philosophical sense- this is what's most important.  And most urgent.

And it sinks in.  This takes time; requires time; demands time.  My time.  Now.  The rewards, in this case, are immediate, and powerful.  There is nothing else I could be doing that could reward me like this.

If I'm not too sleepy by this point, the progression of thought is pretty straightforward.  Essentially- everything worth doing takes - time.  Slow, thoughtful, mindful time.  

Almost everything on your list of "green" or "sustainable" actions will have that requirement.  You need to be "present" - beginning to end- and I fear it will never be "like falling off a log".  

I'm inclined to think that's a good thing, though.  It just takes some getting used to.


On a very different note; I got a good pat from Andy Revkin today, at DotEarth- comment #41, in case the link doesn't land you there...  DC, and Crunch, I see movie posters...  :-)


Christy said...

Beautiful post! My husband has very little interest in our son and it makes me sad to think about what he is missing out on. He's never put our son, who is now 8, to bed or given him a bath.

Anonymous said...

oh man, you made me cry with this. My "smidgen" is 4, and I treasure the moments of holding her hand in mine as she drifts off to sleep or gently removing my arm from under her head as I leave her to her dreams. You are totally right that the things that matter require our presence, and wouldn't be what they are without our total attention.

Greenpa said...

Christy - sad, for sure. There are tons of people out there who just aren't "touchy-feely", as they call us. My parents weren't; don't know how I turned out this way.

Arif- :-) aw. thanks.

Theresa said...

Ah, I felt more relaxed just reading that - thanks Greenpa! I don't have kids, but I think I feel a similar type of thing with my nieces and nephews, and even with my companion animals at times, or when a little bird looks down at me when I put more seed in the birdfeeder. Being fully present in the moment is a joy indeed.

Anonymous said...

Great post. I don't have kids yet so I tend to rush through cooking or planting or whatever else because something else seems so pressing. I have to constantly remind myself to be present in the moment. For awhile I was very good about meditating and doing yoga and that helped immensely with staying in the now.


DC said...

So many things are urgent . . . so few are important. It's a "hurry up" world we live in, and it's hard not to get swept away by it. Now is all we will ever have. It's important not to take it for granted. What I wouldn't give for a five minute conversation with all the people I love who are gone now. We could talk about anything, however dull, and my mind wouldn't wander for an instant.

Children are such a wonderful reminder to live in the moment. To them, the "future" is tonight, or maybe tomorrow -- and is mostly irrelevant. There's a great power and peace that comes with being present. The cares of tomorrow can so often wait.

Regarding your comment on DotEarth, I agree with you, Greenpa. I don't have time for movie poster -- too many urgent things to do today. I am, however, thinking of developing a screenplay that ends with 2.6 billion people lined up outside your potty house, which has become some sort of mystic shrine. Aliens flying overhead are impressed by the spectacle and decide our planet has finally advanced to the point where they are ready to let us join the civilized universe . . . just as our missile defense system malfunctions and blasts their ship into oblivion.

Greenpa said...

Teresa- thanks. As you very perceptively perceived, I didn't intend to suggest that kids are "it".

DC. yup. I've sent your screenplay synopsis to a friend in the business; can't promise anything, but the initial response is that you've got something with at least the drawing power of "Napoleon Dynamite"- and much better plotting. How does 20% of net profit sound? :-)

Anonymous said...

So sweet; and for those of us who are practically inclined (not to point any fingers at myself...), all that reading and singing is a tremendous investment in a child. In her ability to read, to comprehend, to learn, to believe in herself, and to know she is loved and lovable. Not to mention a wonderful chance for the parents to revisit and discover great "children's" books. In fact, my daughter and I just started reading "Peter Pan," in which Barrie wrote that Wendy knew, at age two, that she would grow up when her mother kissed her and said, "Oh why can't you stay just this way for always?"