StorkNet presents . . . Celia Straus'
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Right Here, Right Now In 2004
by Celia Straus
My daughter came home for winter break with a question: It seems that most of the freshmen and sophomores in her dorm have already interviewed for their summer 2004 internships in anticipation of what will be required to have an impressive resume after graduation from college. Was she a slacker for concentrating on her fall courses or signing up for an art class that has nothing to do with her major in history? My sixteen-year-old daughter does well in school but struggles to define herself as who she is rather than in terms of grades, standardized test scores, athletic prowess, or whether she has her own car (she does not). She loves playing lacrosse, but if she's not recruited for college, her world won't come to a screeching halt. My neighbor's youngest child is seven. He is adorable, bright, creative and brave. He attends the local elementary school where he is one of the few children who is not competing in a pee wee soccer league, learning karate, playing a ¼ size violin, or polishing up his computer skills in an after school technology camp. This is not to say he won't ever do any of those activities. It's just that right here, right now he's interested in practicing magic tricks and his new puppy.
Why is it so difficult for our children to stay in the moment? Where do they learn the "shoulds and "if's" that destroy the joy in life? Who pulls them back into the unalterable past or pushes them forward into the unpredictable future when all there really is to life is right here, right now? We do. If I have one New Year's resolution for myself and my children it will be to find moments each day to be in the present. Patience Robbins, a spiritual parenting coach says about being in the present with our children: "When I am with my daughter, I have practiced being in the moment and sensing all that is around me. When she was little I delighted in making mud soup, searching for worms, watching and laughing as a pet bunny rabbit hops around the yard, dancing in the warm rain. She has shown me how to receive what is, rather than focusing on a need to accomplish or produce something."
Here are three reasons to practice being in the here and now:
- For ourselves: Seeing reality for what it is right here and now enables us to break out of the rigid patterns we've all created. We escape the cage built of our concepts and words such as "difficult", "should have." If we touch life deeply, we discover that no conditions need to be met for us to be happy because we are capable of happiness right now. When was the last time you were outside and, for a mere thirty seconds, took a deep breath and became totally aware of what was going on around you?
- For our relationship with our children: If we are able to give full attention to even a few moments each day and realize the wonder of what is going on around us, and then share that wonder with our children, our relationship with them deepens. Moreover, if our relationship is on shaky ground, building on the most ordinary of moments, step by step, enables us to reconnect. Instead of having "a serious talk" with your sullen, rebellious child, why not meet him on equal ground and just "be" (even in silence) with him? A young teenage visitor to my web site comments on this subject: "When I am with my mother, we are both pretending to be people we're not." Another visitor, this time a mother says, "I don't want to cramp her style, but I want to be a part of her life. I just don't know how to go about it."
- For our children: By role modeling the practice of being right here, right now, we teach our children that there is no need to be preoccupied with imagining what the future will bring or feeling guilty about the past. We gently show them that all they need they have; they just have to use it. We demonstrate that all they get by waiting for happiness is more waiting. This doesn't mean they are learning to escape responsibility or the need to achieve a productive and balanced life, but it does mean they are seeing the people who matter most to them delight in reality which, after all, is our only true source of joy.
I don't want my daughters to wait for happiness as I did and still often do, and as I see so many of their friends and their friends' parents doing every day. My oldest daughter can treasure her undergraduate experience and not see it as just another ticket to be punched on her journey through life. She'll do just fine. My youngest daughter can continue to balance being herself and taking part in all life has to offer without losing ground. My neighbor's son can successfully grow into life without participating in activities that aren't a part of who he is now. >
Therefore my New Year's resolution is to try to find the courage each day, if only for a little while, to stop waiting, preparing and getting ready for life and simply live it. I'll try to stop hoping for something different, better or more pleasurable in the future, and relish what I have now, especially my children. And when I get fearful of losing control or ending up a failure for not "staying on task" every moment of every day, I will remind myself that I can live right here, right now and still accomplish everything I want out of life and then some. As Jack Kornfield says, "We need to remember that where we are going is here." And 2004 is right here, right now.
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