This morning, I went for a run with my nine year old daughter. In Pismo Beach for the weekend, we ran along a beautiful ocean front path, with drizzles of rain intermittently trickling through the sunshine. The waves were frothy and grey from the rain. The roar of the ocean was loud, and yet we had to tune in to the sound in order to fully notice the ebb and flow of the water’s song.
As we ran, my daughter stopped to visit with every dog she met. She is an avid dog lover, and can’t help but stop and greet every dog we ever encounter. She stops, gets down to their level, pets them, lets them romp all over her, talks dog-shop with their owners, and I think communicates with the dogs in their own special language. Today, we met ten dogs along the way, including an Australian labra-doodle, an injured yellow labrador, an English bulldog named Abby, and a skittish Jack Russell terrier.
My initial reaction to running with my daughter is a mix of joy and slight impatience. I am half trying to spend time with her, and half trying to get a work out in. And so there are parts of me that want to push forward, run faster, keep going. There is even the occasional hope that she won’t notice the dog rounding the corner. In start contrast to me, her goals are to spend time with animals, blow the fuzzies off of dandelions, and laugh at the rain, palms outstretched and tongue out, catching every last drop.
This is where I can learn from my children. My perspective, in the midst of busy-ness, work, and responsibility, can fade into one of rushing through the run, in order to get back to “real life.” All the while working, in order that I can live, one day in the far off future, with freedom and flexibility to be with those I love most.
Watching my daughter reminds me that this run, the ocean, the animals, the rain, this is life itself. This is where my opportunity to be present exists. Truly, there isn’t a moment more important than this one, being fully immersed and in motion with my daughter, living through her lens of joy and connection.
The other day, I was discussing mindfulness with one of my patients. In trying to define mindfulness together, we landed on this most beautiful concept. Mindfulness is like seeing the world through a child’s eyes, and through the eyes of an elderly person…as if you are experiencing something for the very first time, and also for the very last time.
This definition came to my consciousness as we made our way through our run this morning. Don’t rush. Pay attention. Notice. See your daughter, as she is in this moment, and value her for all that she is, for the moment will pass by before you can even blink. Feel her with all of your being, so that she is burned into your cells, for one day, you will long to have a time like this with her once more.
So today, and in the week ahead, I invite you to join me in noticing…noticing experiences as if it was the first and last time. What changes for you? Can we stop rushing through ordinary moments to get to “real life”, and discover the very life that already exists within those moments?
With gratitude, Monisha