children are teaching us the present moment
Published: 04-02-2013 - Last Edited: 10-11-2022
learning from their light
Children have the extraordinary ability to let the present exist in all of its glory. We see this in their crying, as if the world has collapsed, when an ice-cream truck has driven down the street without their having stopped it, or in their unadulterated laughter when being tickled.
Recently I watched my toddler Hadrian, inspecting a worm shipwrecked on the pavement after a rainstorm. Within him, I saw the seconds unfolding into an eternity. There was no matter of time or place, just the present—the divine miracle of that single moment.
In the Zen tradition, they speak of the “beginner’s mind,” where each new moment is seen with fresh eyes. The mind of the beginner is empty, free of habits and doubt. It is open to all possibilities and, in its subtlety, can realize the original nature of everything.
In my daily, grown-up rush to fit all priorities into a busy day, the beauty and wonder of it all so often eludes the process. It becomes a matter of racing toward the next task without much in the way of fulfillment, digestion, or joyful connection. Which makes me think, if there is no joy or amazement in our daily tasks, what could possibly be the point?
Ironically it is often one of my greatest spiritual teachers (my children) who bring me face to face with my greatest challenge—calling me back to the depth and beauty to be found in any given moment.
After one particularly long day, my littlest Guru (Hadrian) asked me if I would take him out on a bike ride. Exhausted from what seemed like the endless tasks of a mother of three, with dinner still to make, baths to give, rooms to tidy, he says, “Please come with me. I can ride you on the back of my bike.” A slow, wise smile and shining blue eyes melted my resolve. I climbed on the back of his little tricycle and was taken on a tour of Hadrian’s world. He was quick to take his role as tour director of our neighborhood as the circus, museum, zoo that he sees it as and he was going to show it to me in all of its magnificence as if I had never seen it before—which of course, I had not.
First he took me to see the “most beautiful” flower he had ever seen, then onto a hedge that looked like a bear, a whale shaped cloud, and a dead squirrel that had left his squirrel suit behind.
So, dinner was half an hour later than usual. In exchange, I got to feel the joy of a renewed perspective in that short time and Hadrian and I got to feel much more connected to one another. My little gurus regularly remind me of the way I want to be living my life. Like a child with a true beginner’s mind, I want to live inside of the essence of each moment with consciousness as if I am only just experiencing everything, every moment, for the fist time—which in truth, I am!!!
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