Saturday, February 25, 2006

No place I would rather have been

When my son was very young, I would spend many late evenings boiling water in a big pot, into which I would place his bottles and their associated pieces. While boiling, I would begin the somewhat tedious project of mixing his formula for the next day. An alchemist's dream, this involved working in a humid, hot kitchen (remember the boiling pot on the stove), and the concocting of powder and water, at just the right temperature, which was mixed and batched into individual containers. And yet, to my surprise, each night I experienced as much excitment as dread in the performance of this task. I was always unable to identify the source of this pleasure, or the void I felt should my wife take away the task for an evening here or there.

Now some years have gone by, and I found myself just moments ago experiencing exactly the same feelings as I untangled my son's freshly laundered sheets and accomplished the process of pulling and folding the many layers of different materials into something almost artful. A tug here, a tuck, a fluff to unwrinkle, another fold, some more tucks. I paused at one point when I found myself mentally standing in that kitchen so many years ago. The connection became crystal clear. So obvious it seemed a shame the realization took so long.

The joy came in the process of doing. Because, in those moments, I was fully engaged in performing loving kindness toward my son. Because in those moments time did not exist before or after. It was as if I were almost standing still in the timeline of my life, and was truly connected to the action I was taking. In short, there was no place that I would have rather been and there was nothing I would have rather been doing.

I was living in each moment as it passed. I was awake, I was aware, and I was able to experience a level of joy that brought an enormous sense of peace, calm and warmth to my spirit. I was also able to understand an aspect of another Buddhist principle, the idea of impermanence. Knowing that there would be many times in the future when I would not be able to perform this act for my son. Just as I no longer boil his dishes. But the memory is part of me know, and as such it is part of my universe and part of my life. And, even with less pleasant things awaiting me in the day, I can fortify my spirit with these thoughts, and drop back into these moments - even if just in memory - whenever I need them.

Copyright©2006 jdwarrick    

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