I am known for being speedy in my ways, even in my speech. Since my little girl was born exactly a year ago today, I often feel like I am constantly running in a never ending effort to get through what seems to be a never ending list of things to do. Sometimes I honestly feel like I am constantly in a state of having drank too much coffee, forever anxious.
The thing is, often I do not even know why I feel the way I do. Is it work? Is it the constant caring for another human? Is it because I am constantly questioning my parenting skills, my decisions pertaining to all things related to my child, and our future?
Truly, I have often wondered whether being anxious has become a default setting somehow.
As this isn’t how I want to live life as it is neither healthy nor productive and keeps me from being fully present in my own and in that precious child of mine’s life, I have been wanting to do something about it. But, what? How do I “fix” this?
I have tried reading about it, I have downloaded mindfulness apps, I have bought meditation audio books, but somehow even while trying to empty my mind I end up being even more stressed as my brain starts telling stories about what I could be catching up with and how I am slacking. Yes, the struggle is real sometimes.
That is until I decided on a free afternoon to walk eight hundred meters to the park with my one year old. Walking anywhere at the speed of a baby is an exercise in patience and letting go. Babies will do what babies will do and if there is something I fear, it is that I may become a smothering mother who doesn’t see her kid for whom she is but is bent on molding her into something I want her to be instead. It is a thing. I was raised that way and know how it feels to be on the receiving end.
So, off we went and I told myself I would just walk with my child and let her go wherever she wanted. I wasn’t going to interfere unless things got dangerous and I would keep myself from guiding her in any way.
Well, eight hundred meters took us almost one hour and I had to almost literally sit on my hands to keep myself from picking her up, rushing her, or keep her from walk back (for what seemed like the millionth time) to that tree with the small Florida Lizard she found so fascinating.
Now, eight hundred meters in to our walk, I watched my child’s little body balance itself, I saw her fall, stand up, squat, pick up leaves, small stones, and make several attempts to put black sand in her mouth.
At the end of our walk, I noticed that I was completely relaxed for what seemed like the first time in ages. Walking those eight hundred meters gave me an insight into my beloved child: she is curious about everything. She sees the world around her, not just the big things but the small stuff that I seem to have forgotten exist.
While I step out of the house with the intention of going from Point A to the Park and see said park as the place where I will go and have fun, my child has a whole other experience. Fun to her isn’t about the destination. She doesn’t care if we do not make it to the park.
It is the journey that is full of adventures like the sound of the birds chirping, the smell of wet sand, the sound of stones hitting each other when walked on, the sand, the houses, the yellow flower that fell on the ground as we walked by that three, and the big purple leaf on the floor. It was fascinating to see how she navigates the world, full of curiosity. She doesn’t have a place she has to get to. There is no A to B. Life just is for Otchali. My kid lives in the here and now and I was relaxed at the end of that journey because I allowed myself to enter her world, I allowed myself to be there with her. There was no “next thing” to do, there was no “must do this”, there were no “what if”.
The storm had passed for a brief moment and I enjoyed the peace and quiet, the sense of complete freedom my child self used to feel when I put my head out of the window of my father’s car at the end of a sunny day at the beach.
My child taught me that I can have peace if I will just live right now, that if I don’t presume and just live life in curiosity instead of reactively, I will have more peace in my spirit.
While going through a rough divorce years ago, I turned to many writers including Eckhart Tolle and his text, Power of Now. Being present allowed me to navigate that challenging path of my life. Somehow, I forgot about him and I needed this moment with my child to remember that “[al]l negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry – all forms of fear – are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of nonforgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.”
I believe that to be truly present in whatever moment I live in is the best gift I can give to both myself and my beloved child.
Mind you, I haven’t suddenly “fixed” myself, but I have tasted the freedom of being present and I want more of it. Looking back, I remember finding peace in exercising, be it yoga, running or lifting weights. There is a certain comfort and peace in the cadence and sound of one’s own increased heart beat be it through yoga, running, or lifting weights.
Most of all, there is full peace and love when I take the time to really be present and live vicariously through the adventures of the little human I get to call my daughter.
“Being must be felt. It can’t be thought.”
― Eckhart Tolle