A guest post to motivate, encourage, and inspire...
There are short parenting interludes when I watch my children and their candid, unaware action translates into something beautiful and makes my heart hurt. On a beach vacation, last summer, I spent hours watching my youngsters run into the waves, hunt for rocks, and wave their arms tirelessly at passing boats. I tried to capture their childish and frank beauty, and the raw emotion I felt, in the pictures I took. At the time, I had the sense that those moments were too precious to lose or leave behind.
But those interludes don’t happen as often as they should or could. The mundane routine of our everyday life dulls our senses and keeps us from having, or recognizing, what Virginia Woolf called “moments of being.” We bustle through the day and at bedtime find ourselves unable to recall anything specific or significant that happened. We have so little time for thought and reflection once school and countless extracurricular activities start.
Woolf distinguishes between moments of being and moments of non-being without giving either an exact definition. In a circuitous fashion, she suggests moments of being are those in which you are cognizant of something happening and of its significance. Moments of non-being are those not lived consciously.
Summer vacation is a months-old memory now, but it’s not forgotten. The pictures that resurface perpetually in my mind are of my kids playing unabashedly in the waves, scouring the sand dunes for monarch caterpillars (naming the ones they find Voldemort and Fatty), and covering their wet bodies in sand, corndog style. I’ve mostly forgotten what we ate, the jibber-jabber conversations we had, and what it felt like to wake up with a bat flying around the cottage.
I can hear the waves crashing and the dune grass swishing with the wind. I can see the turquoise water close to the shore where the waves have kicked up sand and the pea-coat-navy-blue water where the bottom of the lake drops away suddenly and unexpectedly like a small death. I can see my kids laughing as the waves knock them over, experiencing the overwhelming power of nature to create bliss.
In the stressful times that are inherently a part of our over-scheduled lives, I want to help my children return to that peaceful, happy place. I want to return there too. Making time to get outside (ride bikes, take walks, ski, sled, wander, and discover) without an agenda, creates space for moments of being rather than non-being. As does a spontaneous family night of board games, art-making, or something similar. Opportunities to create moments of being are lurking everywhere, waiting for us to seize them. Sitting down to pen a story or poem is the ultimate reminder of that. And for me, it’s the moments of being, rather than non-being, that bring peace, joy, and meaning to our lives.
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