Having musical adult children that play in town gets me out at night much more than I would, because I hate to miss them playing. Sometimes it is the comings and goings to the event that give me sweet moments too. Last week it was raining when I left and walked to my car in the beautiful town of Doylestown. Being fall there were brown leaves stuck to the pavement. The stores were closed but had lights that reflected in the puddles. It was so pretty. I really "saw" it all. Sometimes when we are rushing here and there we do not SEE.
Tonight I left and it is chillier. The window in the stationary card store was lined with festive cobwebs and orange lights. Leaves were dry and rustling on the sidewalk in the wind. As I drove down the street lined with houses, a man was actually raking leaves into a pile along the road. It was close to midnight. I was so glad I saw him. Not that I was about to run over him kind of seeing; but just a noticing.
At the stop sign I looked at the corner house that our friends Kathy and son Rob rented over a decade ago. Upstairs in the back I saw a light go out. The house was now dark. I was glad to witness the light being there, and then not. I hoped the mystery person would sleep well.
As I drove to the country house I noticed the half a mile of tall cornfield on my right. There were three small deer stepping into it to hide. I was glad to see them. The cornfield was spooky. The sky had scattered clouds and some stars, no moon. I thought it would be neat to take a picture of the spooky cornfield. Up ahead was a neighborhood street opposite, so I pulled in because we have a camera with us now all the time to play with, our phones. My headlights on, I left the door open and car running and ran across the street to take a picture. The flash ruined it. I sprinted back to my car and got my glasses and saw where to turn off the flash and then ran back to take a picture. It was spooky, the husks were making sounds in the wind. I ran back to my car and locked it and continued home.
I do not look at the picture too closely. If there were pairs of eyes peering out at me I do not want to know.... But I really like the picture. I was fully present when I took it. Brave. I had to run back that second time for sure! I was having a few crazy minutes of fun by myself. Noticing. Living.
You know there is so much in the world to fuss about. We can fuss over people having healthcare that we help pay for and we are mad about it and then we can fuss over Ebola and if Ebola comes we sure will want everyone to have health care. Do you see the silliness? What a waste of living, to fuss like that. The whole world of news exists to serve up things to fuss over. Right now, how are you living? This beautiful fall, are you alive in it? Are you appreciating the comfort of your own home? On your simple street? In your own town? Are you making it kinder, more friendly? Are you seeing it all? Right now? Do not wait to lose something to value it. See where you are. "Waste not, want not" applies to moments in days, too.
I guess being a woman I was most struck by her participation. The woman, in her mid 20's and blonde and pretty... I just wonder what was on her mind. Had she ever really thought about who she was and what her values were, I wonder. What did she stand for? Why had she chosen this hatred for herself? Same for the men. It is tragic for the men that were attacked but also for our neighborhood and world that here were a dozen or so young adults who were so thought less. Even if they did not attack they watched and did not try to stop what was happening. Had no inner code that caused them to step forward even if they risked injury themselves.
I see people with this code all the time through my work talking to grieving families about organ donation? Families that have blessed and saved the lives of others are all colors and religions and ages and education levels. Their commonality is an inner code of wisdom about what they stand for. I see the very best most loving and beautiful people all the time and they have all changed me and caused me to be a better person. Oh, there is so much hope and goodness in the world.
I say to all those who have little ones at home. Day to day you are shaping your child's values. Every day they are sponges. So live your best and most loving life and treat them like the wisest little sages you ever met. Discuss things with them. Get their opinions on things. And very early, let them make decisions for themselves. Ask them what they think they should do before you give advice. You are simply providing them with a loving nest to grow in. They have to be able to think for themselves and know who they are and that comes with being trusted to make decisions at an early age. Respect them. Speak to them as politely as you would your most treasured friend. See them as wise and knowing. See the best in them. Talk about their goodness to others. They are here to teach you, truly.
I am glad I did not have a cell phone to distract me when my boys were little. I am glad we did not have a TV in the car so that my 4 year old son was actually looking out the window and noticing and thinking as we drove one day. So he saw the people picketing and he asked me what the signs said. Then he wanted to know what abortion was, and so I told him, and once he heard the definition I asked him what he thought about it... and my 4 year old taught me some things from his purity of thought. Those times are the sacred times of parenting. Is there enough time and quiet in your life, enough space, for times like these? I so hope there is.
“To be mature you have to realize what you value most. It is extraordinary to discover that comparatively few people reach this level of maturity. They seem never to have paused to consider what has value for them. They spend great effort and sometimes make great sacrifices for values that, fundamentally, meet no real needs of their own. Perhaps they have imbibed the values of their particular profession or job, of their community or their neighbors, of their parents or family. Not to arrive at a clear understanding of one’s own values is a tragic waste. You have missed the whole point of what life is for."
- Eleanor Roosevelt
So today, maybe we can build character. Cook together. Ride in he car together without the radio. Have dinner together. Talk. What did you see at school/work today that made you happy? Did you see anyone do anything you thought was nice? Can you think of something we could do to surprise Grandma? This happened in the world today, what do you think about it? What do you think you would do if you were there?
Do you know what my greatest gift right now is? That my three sons are three of the loveliest people I know. That other people tell me the same thing, how wonderful they are. I never tire of it. They are adults, and out in the world, and making the world a better place. Do everything you can right now, to treat yourself to that.
Melissa L Regan
One of my adult sons was playing the piano one day, practicing a performance. I thought of our history together. We had started lessons when I turned forty and he was eight. We would take our lesson back to back at our piano teachers house. Sometimes if he was busy I would take both lessons or if I were busy he would take both. We would bargain with the other if we wanted “out” because we had not practiced.
We mostly tried to stay motivated though. He never wanted to quit piano but sometimes he needed extra help to play everyday. And so for years we would have different kinds of home made charts on the refrigerator to hold the stickers that he chose to mark each time he practiced. A full chart would mean a reward of his choice- a new Beany Baby or as he got older a trip to Blockbuster Video to rent the latest video game.
So back to that one day he was playing as an adult. A thought really struck me. I said to adult son: “Little you” gave “adult you” such a wonderful gift with all that practicing. You can play anything on that piano. You are reaping the rewards now, for all the time “little you” spent hard at work. Think back about the time you spent. You really have to appreciate “little you.” I think it pleased us both to remember the little boy perched on the piano bench, playing.
We can do that sort of thing our whole lives. It is really pretty amazing. We can eat our vegetables today to pave a healthier tomorrow. We can go on a walk today to keep our joints working. We can read a book today. Sign up for a class today. We can start piano lessons at eight or forty or seventy-eight.
I once took a yoga class with a man named John who was very flexible. He told me one day he was seventy-eight years old. “And the funniest thing is, I never did any yoga until three years ago!” What a gift he had given himself 3 years before. He did as much as he could with the ability that he had when he started and he ended up surprising himself.
“A year from now you will wish you had started today.” –Karen Lamb
You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.” –Wayne Gretzky
So…. Think about it. Even if “little you” is pretty big, what can “little you” start to do?
~Melissa L Regan