Saturday, May 29, 2010

Playing in the present

None of us can be in the present and the past at the same time, not even when we try to understand the things that happen to us. Close the door, change the record, clean the house. Stop being who you were, become who you are now.
~ Paulo Coelho

I'm watching my son as he rediscovers a toy. He's older now, more developed, and so the toy appeals to him in a new way. He's incredibly excited about it, as if it's a new plaything just given to him for his enjoyment today. Sometimes I simply marvel at him, at how everything is so new and exciting to him, even when it technically isn't. Each moment he experiences makes up such a huge percentage of his life-to-date, but that doesn't phase him; he is still completely present in each moment. But perhaps even more amazing is that he comes to each moment fresh. He has a memory -- that is evidenced by his surprise when something doesn't do what he expects it to -- but somehow he is still open to having a new experience.

I can learn so much from this little light who has chosen to grace my world. In these first ten months of his walking (now literally) this earth, most of the lessons have been about staying present. This fresh example is an especially vivid one for me today, because it is reminding me of how much baggage we bring into each situation we find ourselves in, and how rarely we are interacting with just that moment. There is so much freedom, so much JOY, in coming into the moment fresh and experiencing it for what it is.

This is especially important when we deal with other people, but oh so challenging. Can you imagine what it would be like if you interacted with your partner, your parent, your boss, your sibling as if experiencing them for the first time in each encounter? You could see them for who they are in that moment instead of whichever version of them you carry inside of you. It is so hard for us to let others be new, to change our image of them, but every day, every experience, changes us a little. Some experiences have larger and longer lasting effects than others. I know I'm still surprised by the changes I find in myself since becoming a mother, and probably more surprised by some of the things that haven't changed, but some of the things that are different about me today have subtler causes. I'm like a fine wine, mellowing with age. :)

I'm not completely sure what the takeaway here is for me today. Like most things, it isn't that this concept is new, but it feels more real, more accessible somehow. Perhaps the way that my son is my guide is by showing me things that I'm ready to (finally) learn. More likely, it's that my learning is cyclical, and I'm open to the next bit of opening up along my "staying present" axis. Whatever it is, I am ready to embrace another aspect of change in my life. As Heraclitus said, "Change is the only constant." And as I like to say, enjoy the ride. Namaste.

Photo: "Birthday Present," originally uploaded by Lachlan Hardy