Over the past year I have had the great joy of getting to spend lots of time with my friend’s baby. She is now almost 21 months old. She walks, runs, dances, climbs, talks, sings, laughs, cries, and all with great gusto. She has taught me more than anyone else with years of wisdom and advice. While experience is great, sometimes you have to strip things down to the bare bones in order to really learn anything. And here is what she has taught me through simply being herself, no pretenses, no guises, just 100% authenticity.
She does not hide her feelings or stuff them down only to unexpectedly and inappropriately explode at a later date and time on someone who no doubt does not deserve to be the target. She makes her feelings known immediately. She gets them out of her system and carries on with her day. She’s not going to get mad at me at 3:00PM because some kid ignored her on the playground at 10:00AM. She’s going to get mad right then and there, get it out of her system and start fresh. While I am not suggesting we shout, cry, or throw a mini tantrum every time things do not go our way or someone does something we do not like, I do think we would all benefit from getting things out of our systems sooner rather than later. We all know bottling things up only makes for messy cleanups down the line.
While she has a good memory she does not dwell in the past or waste time contemplating the future. She lives in the moment. She is as present as one can get. The only time that counts is this moment, right now, live it to its fullest. Laugh with gusto. Cry with all your might. Run as fast as you can, nowhere. Scream as loud as you can just to hear your own voice. Kiss with abandon. Dance as silly and crazy as your heart desires. Grab this very moment and go! Here and now…not yesterday, not tomorrow, this moment. What are you missing by rehashing something that happened in the past or thinking about something that is to come in the future? Stop missing it and just be present, right here, right now.
She is always open. There is no greater example of what the Buddhists call beginner’s mind than witnessing a baby. There are no preconceived notions. Anything is possible. Everything is new and exciting. She always sees things with fresh eyes. There is no right way or wrong way; there is only the way she is attempting to do something in that very moment. The world is filled with possibility. While this makes life scary at times, it also makes life exciting and fun. Life is one great big adventure when you have someone to hold your hand and venture out into the great unknown with you. If it gets too scary, just cry for the person you want to hold you and they will hug you until things seem a little less scary and you can again venture out into the great wonders of this world. Easier said than done, but what if you stopped trying to predict outcomes or ceased to enter into situations with outcomes preplanned in your head. What if instead of trying to cram the square block into the circle hole you simply took the lid off and dumped the square block into the bucket?
And she accepts me as unconditionally. No one else breaks into an ear-to-ear smile every time they see me. No one else laughs at all of my jokes. No one else thinks I have the power to make everything better by simply kissing it. She loves me for me. I can dance as silly as I want, make funny noises, have goop all over my clothes and she does not judge me, think less of me, or make fun of me. She has taught me that I am okay just as I am. I do not need to change anything, do anything better, or make any improvements. I just have to be fully present with her and that is more than enough.
After spending a whole day with this beautiful baby I am not left pondering the two trips to the playground, the cookie baking, the story reading, or the playtime we had. I am left thinking about this…when was the last time you sat with someone you loved watching the wind blow the leaves of a tree, totally mesmerized for 15 minutes, then giggled so hard and long that you gave yourself the hiccups? We sat on a bench under a tree doing just this today. I bet if you tried it just once a week your life would be a whole lot better.