I want to say hurry up. I want to say we’re getting late, and my already lengthy ‘to-do’ list isn’t getting any shorter. I want to tell him that it’s just a rock he’s been staring at for the last 2 minutes, and that there isn’t anything special about it.
But, then I see the look in his eyes. Excitement. Wonderment. Curiosity. Awe.
So, instead of saying all the things I want to say, I stop and sit. Amidst the busy lunch crowds that populate the city streets, I sit cross-legged alongside my one-year-old and stare at a rock. It is small, smooth, and blue. There is a little shiny spot that catches the rays of the sun beating down on us this hot Monday afternoon. He is amazed by the tiny speck of light that seems to radiate from the rock.
When his attention is finally diverted, he takes another couple of steps with that adorable toddler gait of his and stops again. This time a fallen leaf has caught his eye. He picks it up, and runs his finger alongs the veins. It catches the wind and brushes up against his face. He giggles and exclaims “tickle!” I smile. Suddenly, he points to his ear. “Birdie! Hear it!” Through the traffic and bustle of busy streets, I hadn’t even noticed the robin’s nest that sat in the tree directly above us.
He has my eyes — that’s what I’ve been told numerous times. But, today, I can see that he doesn’t. My eyes saw past all of this simple beauty and saw only the front door of our building. His eyes were not like mine at all. His eyes saw all the wonder that my eyes were blind to.
All it took was a few moments of sitting on the sidewalk for me to realize I was doing it all wrong. I was walking all wrong. Somewhere between my carefree school days and motherhood, I learned to drown myself in the mundane tasks of day-to-day life. The never-ending dishes, laundry, cooking, and cleaning have become the thoughts that sit at the forefront of my mind — while the simple pleasures of life have faded into the background. How sad.
Not at this moment, though. At this moment, a tiny person who has only existed for a mere 16 months is teaching me how to walk — how to really walk. He is teaching me to live in the present moment. When he stares at me with those wondrous eyes, I can tell he isn’t thinking about the bubbles he was just blowing at the park, he isn’t thinking about cookies, or the new toy (cardboard box) that he was playing with all morning. No. He is thinking about how the light shines off the rock, how the leaf feels against his face, and the sweet melodies that the robins sing in the afternoon. He is thinking about this very moment.
Again, I am taken aback by this unexpected life lesson. He is right. Because, the truth is, there isn’t any good that’s going to come from thinking about the unpleasant exchange of words that occurred between my husband and I last night. Nor is there any sense in thinking of the household chores that await me the minute I open the door to my home. I can’t telepathically apologize through my thoughts, and the chores are certainly not going to complete themselves as I dwell on the daunting list from the sidewalk.
I make a promise to myself. One that I will need to be reminded of time and time again. When I walk like a child, I will see the world through his eyes. When I walk like a child, I will remember
To stop ‘hurrying up’ and start ‘slowing down’
To stop and appreciate the simple beauty that surrounds us.
To see everything, no matter how minute or seemingly mundane, as nothing less than extraordinary.
To listen to the melodies of the blowing wind and birds.
To live in the present moment — not in the unchangeable past or the unpredictable future.
Because that is the real way to walk.
When he falls asleep in my arms that afternoon, I listen to his slow and rhythmic breathing. I smell his hair, and notice how it is beginning to curl around his ears. I carefully take in his face — long eyelashes, button nose, flushed cheeks. He shifts in my arms and nuzzles against my chest. I close my eyes and take a mental photograph of this moment. I am overcome with a sense of pride and pure love. What else will you teach me, son?