Savoring the Moment

Fall Leaves

When my son Jonathan started kindergarten, I was sure the teacher would absolutely adore him.  He was, I thought, so precocious.   (After all, both of his parents were teachers.)  And with his red hair and freckles, he looked like one of those darling kids in TV commercials.

My husband and I arrived for our first parent-teacher conference expecting glowing affirmations of our parenting skills.  Instead, the teacher, clearly annoyed, cut right to the chase.

“Jonathan is late to school every day,” she began.

“You’re kidding!” I exclaimed.  “I always send him in plenty of time.”  I couldn’t imagine that it would take him more than half an hour to walk the few blocks to school.  The conference went downhill from there, with Miss Fitz (not her real name) offering little hope that this tardy, daydreaming child would ever amount to anything.

The next day I decided to follow Jonathan at a distance to see why the walk was taking such a long time . . .

It was a crisp, fall day.  Multicolored leaves skittered across the sidewalk, and one by one he began tucking them into his pockets.  Always on the lookout for agates, he soon spied a patch of gravel.  Sure enough, after sifting through, he found several pretty rocks that he slipped into his bulging pockets.

Watching squirrels store their acorns and marveling at the sound of birdsongs, he continued his leisurely walk along the designated route.  Soon he came upon a lot where a crew of carpenters worked at framing in a house.  What fun it was to notice all the ways the house had magically grown since the previous day.  Eventually he roused himself and ambled on.  I began to wonder whether he might be learning more on the way to school than he learned in the classroom.  Of course I didn’t say this to Miss Fitz.

When Jonathan returned from school that day, I talked to him about the importance of walking straight to school each morning with no stops along the way.  However, I gave him permission to take his time on the way home.  He could look for agates.  He could stop and watch the carpenters.  But on the way to school in the morning, though I cringed when I said it, I emphasized how important it would be to keep walking.

Fairly early in life, most of us learn to keep moving, and before we know it, we’re running.  Giving in to the tyranny of the urgent, we close our minds and hearts and senses to the magic of the world around us.   Concentrating on the “important” things in life, we learn to organize, tune out, and multitask.

Just for fun, try engaging all of your five senses today.  This evening when you crawl into bed, ask yourself this:  “What was the favorite thing I saw/tasted/smelled/heard/touched today?

©Copyright, Sharon Sheppard, 2013