For those of us who have a program running about how much we should achieve and when, our children can pose a challenge. They interrupt our timeline and for many of us they also call into question the value of the work we do. Success is often an abstract idea. True success happens in small, ordinary moments. How do we become friendly with small, ordinary moments? By being present. And our greatest teachers in that are our children. That’s why kids have so much joy. They don’t miss the small stuff.
That small stuff, it’s discovered in moments of wonder, and wonder is discovered in moments of timelessness. I hear you reader, you say, “I am an exhausted parent, how can I have that kind of luxury?”
Writer Kyo Maclear may not have an answer but in “Birds Art Life Death: A field guide to the small and significant”, she gives an elegant response to the exhausted parent.
“There is something subversive about the sight of a woman who is always on call, always in a heightened state of watchfulness and awareness, momentarily checking out — zoning into her own internal infinity.
There is so much finitude in the lives of the mother (and father) artists I know. We are so often counting (time, money, errands, cups of coffee, hours until bedtime). We are too often irritable and impatient with our children, and this makes us uneasy and sometimes ashamed.
I want for every overextended person in my life stretches of unclaimed time and solitude away from the tyranny of the clock, vast space to get bored and lost, waking dreams that take us beyond the calculative surface of things.”
Maclear’s dream won’t always be possible. But we can touch something of the spirit of it in a single breath, the kiss of a breeze, or a glimpse of a fading rainbow. I highly recommend “Birds Art Life Death”. It’s a portal into welcome stillness when a toddler has turned our house upside down or a teenage drama is clouding our domestic atmosphere. But most of all it reminds the reader that the daily life that drives us crazy is not something we need to escape from, but something to which we have been called. When we stand in our ordinary, messy lives, we see the deepest mysteries in the humblest corners.