Busy-ness is a state of mind, not a fact. No matter how much or how little we’re doing, we’re always just doing what we’re doing, simply living this one moment of our lives. ~Norman Fischer
Yesterday I experienced something rare, something that has become almost ‘unknown’ to me the the hustle and bustle of living life with three little ones; not to mention the intensity of the past year: where there were many quiet moments, but they were cluttered with such intense emotion that it often crowded out the calm.
I experienced a moment of stillness. I did not have to go anywhere to find it. In fact, I would say that it found me. I did not stop what I was doing. I did not alter my life in any way. And yet a moment of total quiet managed to find me. All of a sudden, every little thing I was doing took on a meditative aspect. Life seemed to slow down a little. The sun was shining brightly and adding a sparkle to the covering of snow outside. The sky was crystal blue.
I was washing the dishes getting the kitchen ready to prepare dinner, and Leo was having a snack at the table. Anaïs was upstairs resting (she had a mild fever that day and slept it away). Suddenly everything got quiet and I looked over at Leo… he had put his head down on the kitchen table and… fallen asleep. I moved him over to the couch and he remained still like a purring cat in the sun.
And then, I just kept on doing as I was before. I finished the dishes. I chopped the potatoes. I prepared the carrots and green beans. I washed the spinach. I looked out the window. And while my kids slept, the house was… quiet. And in that moment, I felt my breath steady… I could feel them near, but I could not hear them… aside from the magical rhythms of their breath. And, I really enjoyed the quiet…
I had completely forgotten what this kind of stillness feels like. To be engaged in the world and the task before me, without a single distraction to lure me away from it. Usually, I am enjoying the sounds of children laughing, crying, talking, asking… my own personal ‘non-stop’ sound system. And by the time the sound system turns off to go to sleep, I am immersed in laundry, cleaning, preparing lunches and moving through the motions to exhausted by the day to really feel a sense of ‘calm’ in what I am doing.
Though, I will admit that I often stay up later and longer into the night just to get a few more moments of this ‘blissful quiet time’ (even if it is full of activity). I find myself doing it even more over the past few months, as I keep ‘hoping’ that in the ‘sacred stillness’ of the night hours I might feel my mom a little bit closer. What ends up happening is that I just get tired… and sometimes sad. So this particular moment of stillness was different… it happened while the sun was shining. It happened in the middle of the day. And there was something magical and surreal about it.
Before the events of this past year, I would usually find these moments of calm simply in the process of parenting (then again, not all three of my kids were yet verbal, and at least one of them was still napping). I realize, also, that I was able to find this ‘stillness’ in the endless hours I spent talking to my mom… every. single. day. While she and I didn’t share the same parenting styles, I could always talk to her and know that it was a space where I would be heard… there is something to that… that ‘space of being heard’ (but that is a tangent for another day). Nowadays I find I go from one task to the next and don’t usually have that same opportunity to ‘stop, and hit that ominous pause button’… i suppose this is where being able to write fits in.
Just the other day a dear friend of mine, and phenomenal mama of two terrific kids, reflected to me about the how she and her husband had gotten so consumed by the hustle and bustle of the holiday season… and then, her parents took the kids for two nights. And suddenly, in the quiet, she realized how easily we forget that as parents we always have giants in our midst… usually very large giants who take up a lot of space. And they are amazing, and we love them, and we enjoy every single precious moment… and sometimes, we also need a moment hit the pause button and find that moment of quiet, serene stillness. And that stillness is different for all of us… that space where we can recharge, refuel, regenerate. So that we can be more present when we are in the moment of chaos, madness, noise, upheaval, management… and indescribable joy and love.
While I know that I am in no position to seek my own space of stillness outside of my home, or away from my family… I am still finding my roots again (though who am i kidding, i was never good at being away); this one silent moment reminded me that I can, in fact, allow these moments to find me. And I will admit that the ‘afterglow’ continues on into today. So tonight, as I go to prepare for tomorrow, I will make a point to allow the stillness of this moment to be a part of what I do… and allow the task to take on a more meditative and deliberate tone… and feel my breath as I do it… and rather than try to find a moment where I can sit in perfect harmony to meditate, or get away to absorb nature and engage more deeply with my grief, or sit down to engage in an hourly practice of yoga … instead, i will ease back in simply by bringing those mysterious elements into the moments as I live them… and in that, reclaim that wonderful sense of calm that is accessible in these perfect moments of stillness (not just in the wee hours of the night, but right up front and centre, in the midst of a sunny day). Perhaps they will not always be perfect, perhaps they will not always be quiet, perhaps they will just be… just as life is… real, authentic, at times a little noisy, and living in this very moment.