A story about presence: Traveling with my kids

Traveling with children is totally enlightening.

I live largely in my thinking.

This is my experience: Thinking…

“We have three, maybe four hours between wake up time and time for Miller’s first nap.  Two to three hours once you factor in breakfast and baths.

What should we do?

We should go to the beach. Will it be warm enough that early?

What do we need to bring? Layers; lots and lots of clothing. Snacks. Water; lots of water. Toys.

Let’s pack up the car. I hope it’s warm enough. Maybe we should save the beach until after the morning nap? No, not enough time. We’ll go now.

Did Willow go potty once or twice already?  I should have her try again.

Is Miller’s nose still running? I hope he’s not getting a cold. If he is, we better keep him in tonight. If he gets an ear infection the flight home will be a nightmare.

It’s 8:45. 72 degrees. I hope it starts warming up. We should get going.”

So. Much. Thought. And did you notice…it’s almost entirely speculation about the future?

From what I can surmise given her mood and what she says, this is a close approximation of my three year old’s experience: Thinking (and saying. Mostly saying)…

“We’re going to the beach?!? I love the beach!!

No mommy, I won’t be too cold. I can’t wait to play in the sand. I love the beach!!

I don’t have to go potty.

What’s that in the corner? It looks fun. I’m going to go play with it.

I love this toy! This is so fun!

Ooh, what’s that moving over there? Oh, it’s my brother. You’re such a nice baby, Miller. I love my brother (covering him in kisses so much so that we have to step in).

No, I said I don’t have to go potty, Mommy!!!

Miller, stop taking my toy! I don’t want to play with you anymore. Daddy, can you take Miller away?

What? Oh, we’re finally leaving for the beach? Yay, I love the beach!! ”

She shows me what it looks like to live in perpetual creative response to what is present in each moment. She lives entirely inside of what is right in front of her.

She wants to know why adults are so concerned with what time it is.

She wonders why we’re thinking so much about the temperature outside. It’s 70 degrees in the house, right now. Who knows what it will be on the beach, and who cares? It’s not like we can do anything about it.

She can’t answer my insane questions about whether she thinks she’ll be hungry in an hour or whether she’ll have to go potty when we’re stuck in traffic. She can’t even wrap her present little mind around such crazy talk.

She is fully immersed in, and usually totally happy with what we are doing right now. She loves the beach. She also loves the condo, the rental car, her stroller.

Unless she’s not happy; then she’s simply not happy. There is no telling herself she should be happy when she’s not. There seems to be very little, if any, upset over being upset.

She doesn’t personally identify with each and every thought and emotion that shows up so she moves on, always unconsciously and automatically gravitating toward what feels good.

She often spontaneously says adorable things like, “I love me!”, “I love my family!”, and “This is so fun!” when she’s doing nothing in particular. I assume those random outbursts are what we refer to as innate wisdom—that blissful, shared energy that connects every living thing. The stuff underneath thought.  Because she doesn’t have much thought, those outbursts naturally reach the surface.

These little people I live with are an endlessly fascinating species, I tell you.  They make it look so easy.

I didn’t teach Willow to be this present. Obviously. In fact, my time, temperature, and potty preoccupations are teaching her just the opposite.

But she is resilient.

You’d almost think we were naturally wired this way. Would that be convenient?

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