I’m reading a fine book by someone I know (Dee Coulter) titled Original Mind: Uncovering Your Natural Brilliance. In an early chapter titled, “Reclaiming Our Earliest Mind,” Dee suggests taking a walk with a child between the ages of 2 and 5 and letting them be the leader. She notes:
“As you enter the child’s world on this walk, notice the nature of the objects and activity the child attends to, how long the child attends to these matters, and the observations and discoveries the child seems to make. Notice also, what it does to your tempo and mental activity when you enter the child’s world in this way.”
It was serendipitous that I read this just before visiting my 3-year old granddaughter Zadie. I had the supreme pleasure of a day with just her and me and off we went for a long walk to a nearby park. Zadie chose to walk at the beginning and I held her hand while pushing the stroller, ready when needed. We made it a half-a-block before the stooped at the grated sewer and commented on the two holes and tunnels below ground and started throwing little sticks and leaves down through the grate. Instead of insisting we keep moving to the “destination” of the playground, I relaxed into the Zen traveler’s mode “Wherever you go, there you are.” From there, we paused at just-blooming daffodils, picked off sprigs of rosemary and made a little game of who would see the next plum tree in bloom. She asked questions about the homeless man rummaging for bottles in the recycling bin “(What’s that man doing?”), made comments about the little construction project (“We can’t play in that dirt. Nooo.”), noted stars hanging in windows and a cat sitting on a fence. I showed her the buds and flowers on the magnolia tree, the first hint of leaves next to the leftover brown crinkled autumn leaves still hanging, talked about the abstract concept of Spring in a language she kind of got (“This flower’s still waking up. That one is really awake!”). She noticed the bark of dogs and caw of crows and I started to also.
One hour later, we had walked ten blocks.
It was time for her Cliff bar snack and she agreed to eat it in the stroller while I picked up the pace. I immediately thought of wheeling my Mom in her wheelchair, also outside to look at flowers. We think we are caretaking the very young and very old, but if we look at it correctly, we are apprenticing ourselves to their slower way of moving through this world and seeing beyond the names we give things to the sensuality of experience. How much time we spend stressed and cursing in rush-hour traffic because we're late for a meeting we didn't particularly want to go to in the first place. We would do well to follow the example of the toddler and the octogenarian.
On we went to the playground and the usual yee-hah! of swings and slides and see-saws.
Took the bus back and laid down for a nap. I slept. She didn’t. Tonight should be fun.
So it is Spring in my heart, with my old dormant flowers slowly awakening, remembering the pace the Nature intended. And it’s lovely.