In the absence of being about to "do" a lot with my family, I have been simply attempting to "be" with them. Just to be present in what we are doing. To sing and read stories. To listen intently to the cadence of a 2 year old recounting his day . To help navigate through the minefield of funding sources and company board politics. Just to be there for them, even if I can't do anything.
As I sat down to write a post about how I struggle with this issue, I remembered that I'd written something last February about the same thing, just a few weeks into this blogging journey. Its funny how the lessons we need to learn in life keep appearing until we get it. Well, maybe not funny as much as endlessly frustrating, but that is another issue entirely.
Lay Back and Crochet for England, 13th February 2009
I am reading a lovely book called Buddhism for Mothers. One particular area I am fascinated with is mindfulness...staying present in the moment with whatever you are doing, focussed on the task at hand. The benefits of this way of being are clear. In the book Happiness by Richard Layard, he highlights study after study that shows people are happiest when they are immersed in a task, thinking about nothing else. Which, I guess, is why sex and hobbies came top of the list of activities that make people the happiest. Its difficult to think of anything else when you are laying back and crocheting for England.
So, all week, I have been trying to focus closely on what we are doing, staying present and not wandering off in my mind to think about what else I could be doing. Its gone something like this.
At the park, Ellis asks to get on the swing. I think:
Oh, what a gorgeous day. I am so lucky to be here. Hey, look at me being present in the moment. Look at Ellis. He is so cute. Look at the way his hair blows in the wind...God, its long...He needs a hair cut.
I wonder why it always turns into a mullet. Maybe we are secretly related to Billy Ray Cyrus. Oh but that means we are related to his daughter, that Miley girl. What if the press turns up at our house and the whole village knows? Lets face it, they flipped when we grew veggies in the front garden. Celebrity would be too much for them.
Well, if we didn't tell anyone, I mean the paparazzi wouldn't be too interested in boring old us. Then, Ellis could wear his mullet with pride. Cr*p...this isn't very "in the moment"...
It happens constantly. I start an activity with the best intentions, like washing the dishes with Ellis, and my mind wanders off to somewhere else, "Should I make some dishtowels out of that new fabric? Oh, but no one could use them, so whats the point of having dishtowels? But I guess people do that kind of thing. I mean people cover their furniture in plastic. I wonder why they do that, rather than buy a cheaper sofa? Don't their bums stick to the seat? Maybe if it was a colder climate it would be OK. Then people wouldn't wear shorts and get stuck."
Each time I catch myself out, I am reminded of a walk I went on as a student of Human Ecology. We walked for 2 miles in silence so we could "be present with nature" and not distracted by chatter. Well, no one spoke for 2 miles, but I could hear nothing else but the "swish, swish, swish" of 20 pairs of waterproof trousers. Towards the end of the walk, I was nearly in hysterics as I didn't see a single tree, plant, bird or beastie for the constant "swish, swish, swish" resonating in my head. I sometimes think that nature probably ran away in fear from the sound of gor-tex.
I think I have a long way to go. Kevin, of course, thinks I should practice the activities where mindfulness is easiest... Now, where's that crochet hook?