Children are brilliant with respect to understanding life, without the belief system and concepts we decide to adhere to as we grow old. They see things differently. They feel with all their being. They say what is on their mind and ask questions. They are seekers of life. I am not sure at which point most adults lose this sentiment and approach. One of the many blessings of having children, working with children, or simply being around them is the ability to absorb the light we once had as a child ourselves.
I am energized by the three little ones running around the house and the various ages of children to young adults I work with every day. The lessons I draw from their existence is priceless in my own seeking, which is the natural predisposition of a human being. We seek to discover and enjoy. We seek the truth. We seek thrills and danger. We seek safety and comfort. We seek engagement and experience, as exemplified by my interaction this morning.
Over the past few days, the little ones have been a little under the weather. Yesterday, I had football practice for the high school squad and the kids asked if they could attend. Not a problem, as the other coaches’ children are also in attendance, playing, rough housing, and yelling in excitement, all together, throughout the few hours. It is truly a blessing to have the ability to experience this as a coach, as a parent, and simply as a person.
If you live in Southern California, you know the weather has been crappy, at best. Yesterday, after I picked up the youngest and arrived at practice, the other two walked down from their classrooms to join forces. All three got together and found another partner in seeking and the four of them, completely absorbed in one another, played joyfully. Half way through practice it began to rain. As a parent, I wanted to make sure they had their jackets, went into the gym, and got out of the cold. As a coach, standing in the rain, instructing quarterbacks on their five-step drops, I wanted them to enjoy playing in the rain. It is a sentiment written in songs, expressed in literature, and enjoyed when experienced; dancing in the rain!
I let it be. Practice ended early as the rain began to come down with a pounding of Thor’s hammer. I knew there would be sniffles and coughs to come. Sure enough, at 11 p.m., one of the boys came my bed asking for comfort. I don’t like the kids in the bed with us anymore, not because of any theoretical principle that suggests they are too old and it promotes independence. I don’t like it because they are too damn big. It is uncomfortable. When times like this arise, I simply tell them to grab their pillow and comforter, I do the same, and we take to the L-shaped couch to sleep together, easing their pain through love and easing my discomfort through space.
He never really went back to sleep. He coughed all night, sipped water to clear his throat, and periodically “bumped” me to see if I was awake. He completely passed out around 5 a.m. as I was finishing my morning workout and setting up for my morning meditation. It was a long night for both of us. When everyone else awoke, I told Mom, he probably shouldn’t go to school. He quickly popped up to the sound of his brothers getting dressed and making every possible noise known to mankind. I told him to go back to sleep.
His response, “Am I not going to school?”
“No, I figured you would be tired and little drained. Plus, you look like death, bro! Why? Do you want to go to school?”
“Yeah, I don’t want to miss out on the day!”
He didn’t mean that in a sense of adult responsibility for attending a commitment or from the standpoint of knowledge being power and he wished to consume as much information as possible. He simply meant he did not want to miss out on engagement. He wanted to see his brother perform a thirty-second strings performance in the morning meeting. He wanted to have fun with his classmates. He wanted to learn from his teacher. He wanted to have the standard dinning commons lunch of Friday, pizza! He didn’t want to sit around the house, watching TV, taking Tylenol, and waiting around while Dad did work or run errands that were necessary for the house. Yes, he could be engaged in those activities at home but that is not the world he enjoys during the day.
He enjoys his world. He is completely present and engaged in his world. That is where he wants to be and who am I to stop that (don’t worry parents, he wasn’t contagious nor sick to the extent of missing school, just a little cough). When is the last time you showed up in your world, to engage, to not miss a thing? Asking myself that question, I could not find the immediate answer but I knew today, in everything I was planning on doing, I was going to be completely engaged.
Try it. Really try it though. Be intentional in your efforts. Be engaged with yourself. Be engaged with your environment. Be engaged with all those around you. Completely engaged. Take the time not to miss out. See what happens. It may be more profound than it sounds. You may realize your lack of engagement or the intention behind your engagement. There are all kinds of possibilities. So, why not? And, if it suits you, don’t miss out on another day, ever!