“Before we learn to speak, our true nature is to love and be happy, to explore and enjoy life. As little children, we are completely authentic. Our actions are guided by instinct and emotions; we listen to the silent voice of our integrity.” — Don Miguel Ruiz
My husband and I have been blessed with four great children. They’re all grown now, self-sufficient and productive citizens. Hard-working and happy, and for this, I am thankful every single day.
In turn, our children have blessed us with five grandchildren. All babies and toddlers. Producers of wet pants, runny noses, skinned knees, temper-tantrums, contagious giggles and more joy and pride than can be described in this column. I often tell people that grandchildren are our reward for raising children. You’re able to extract all the joyous benefits of kids without the expense and sleepless nights.
Recently, I was admiring my four-month-old granddaughter — the only girl in our pack of five grands and predicted to be the ring-leader by age 2. As I cooed and awed at her expressions and explorative movement, I couldn’t help but wonder out loud how these little babies and children can fold and unfold their bodies, reaching and bending in yoga-like postures that as adults we find impossible to attain without persistent practice and concentration. My daughter then took it a step further. “Mom,” she said, “look at how happy she is. She’s living in the moment. She isn’t thinking about the future or worrying about the past. She’s just here, in this place, looking at the smiling faces, and feeling loved.” Exactly right.
Children, from the moment of birth, are sponges of life. Absorbing sounds, tracking movement, observing behaviors, receiving messages. They commence unspoiled, free of judgement, with only the basic needs of food, shelter, stimulation and rest. As they grow, it becomes obvious to the observer that every activity for a child is an opportunity to learn and explore.
Our two-year-old grandsons sit at the dinner table with spoon in hands and food on their plate, yet the spoon-to-mouth action is short-lived. How much more interesting it is to stick your hand into the yogurt, watch it ooze between your fingers and then paint the table with the bold strokes of Picasso. How many times have you seen a child open a gift that was carefully chosen and beautifullywrapped, only to find the paper and the box it came in far more fascinating than the present? They don’t anticipate the gift. They’re completely absorbed in the act of tearing apart the colorful paper!
As we get older, we tend to lose that ability to live in the moment, to find wonder in the simple things. When was the last time you intentionally didn’t come in out of the rain? Just stood in a puddle with the warm drops spilling off your shoulders, thrown your head back, and purposefully invited the rush of water over your face? Or done a cannonball into the pool? Or planted a big wet kiss on the cheek of your loved one without forethought or embarrassment?
Dan Fogelberg was a gifted songwriter and recording artist. His song “Heart Hotels” was a popular hit in the 80’s, and it’s words, “…seek inspiration in daily affairs…,” might be a good rule to live by.
We are all very aware of how quickly time passes and how short our life here on earth is. This awareness becomes more pronounced as we get older, yet we continue to jump ahead to the next event on our calendar, the next deadline, the next milestone. We know we will be happier once an obligation is fulfilled, when we secure the job, or get the raise we deserve. We’ll be able to relax after the storm passes; as soon as the kitchen is clean; once I land this big sale.
I believe the secret to living life to its fullest is held in the mind of a child. The place where there is only this moment in time. Where the most interesting thing is happening right before my eyes. And I’m learning from every experience because I chose to experience every moment.
As we age, we don’t lose the ability to enjoy life. We’re still capable of finding contentment, and there is always something new to learn. The irony is that we usually overlook the opportunity because it’s right in front of us. We forget to pause in the rain, play with our food or absorb the loving looks of those around us. Surely, if we seek inspiration in these fleeting moments, the simplest of acts will fill us with joy.
Laurie Kasperbauer is an active Florida Realtor specializing in properties in Naples and Marco Island. Laurie also enjoys the spiritual and physical benefits of yoga practice and instructs both group and private classes.