Welcome the quiet

This morning I wiped out while taking a walk. Slid on a decline in the concrete, tore my hands open and scraped off much of the skin on my right knee. After the expletives stopped involuntarily exploding from my mouth, I laughed. It’s been at least 30 years since I last skinned my knee, I thought. Unfortunately, there was no one to see the fall, watch me laugh at my clumsiness or make the video. If they had I’d post it here. But alas, no one. Well, at least not in a living body.

I was walking quickly through a lovely cemetery at the top of Queen Anne hill and reading the names on the gravestones near the road. One right next to it popped out at me – Vane V. Vance. Really? Who was this guy? And who were his eccentric parents who thought that up? What could the middle initial possibly be? Did all of his luggage sport a triple V monogram? Maybe he designed his own logo. Maybe it looked like a mess of Vs like Volkswagen’s. As I giggled to myself and looked back to confirm I saw what I saw, a rock “popped out” from the pavement in just the right spot for me to step directly on it.

If I’d only listened more carefully. Truth is I’ve been getting messages to slow down for at least a week. My body, my mind, my energy. Even Henry has slowed his pace. Choosing to spend his time with us in the mornings and evenings, usually filled with exuberant play, instead calmly being read to or watching a few minutes of a movie. Rebelling against any activity done with any sense of urgency, especially getting ready to go somewhere by a certain time. They’re really good at that, aren’t they? Reminding us that being somewhere at a certain time only means something if we give it meaning. That time isn’t really linear. Children are really good at quantum physics.

In response to this universal and repeated appeal to slow down, I’ve gone inward. I’m working hard, but one of the benefits of being a writer and a person in need of the quiet is the solitary nature of my day. Introspection, meditation, time where it’s just me and the computer or me and the notepad or me and the pavement. There’s plenty of that. While I sometimes create activities where I must be amongst the people, I have not done so in the last week or so outside of my happy little nucleus of Henry and Larry.

I’m not the only one hearing this call…in a big way in recent days — to slow down, to look inwardly, to breathe fully, to take a break from the routine. Fellow writers are talking about it more eloquently than I, including fellow bloggers and like-minded souls. Facebook friends are posting more and more about the merits and pleasures of simply standing still and being. Folks in my life are having minor accidents, travel troubles, project delays at work, unexpected or even forced time off or time away. For the astrologers in the crowd, Mercury is in retrograde, which seems to help this kind of thing along. But I don’t know that I’ve ever seen it so consistently pronounced during such a short period of time.

As for me, I choose to heed the call. When I’m literally halted in my tracks and pushed to the ground while walking and thinking too quickly, it’s time to listen more carefully. To be more present. To be more aware. To see more clearly. To get off the treadmill. To evolve from the inside out. To be more quiet.

This excerpt from Free the Children, a wonderful fable about spiritual parenting by Bruce Scott, helped me get back there:

It is as though we all live in a giant movie theater with the same movie playing over and over again. Same dialogue. Same roles. Same actors, complaints and beliefs. And each morning we wake up, unaware that we are entering into the same theater, to once again watch and participate in the same film with the same ending. And together, six billion of us agree that this is the only film playing.

What if we suspect there is a different movie playing somewhere else…and we seek it out on our own?

Would you go to school? Would you ask your children to be compliant? To follow the rules? Get a job? Prepare for the future? Would you get up every morning to go to work? Would you have a religion?

Would you see women and men as wondrous beings without gender separation? Would you have need to marginalize people by making them wrong or right? Normal or abnormal? Crazy or sane? Hallucinating or having amazing visions?

Or might you go exploring into the wisdom of your heart and soul, and be with people from that place, living differently, quietly inside, softer with others, sweet with innocence, kind to the children, recognizing they, the little ones, will bring you home to yourself, deep inside, gently, with a giggle.

Thank goodness for the giggles, the falls and the quiet.

An offering

In my first post a couple of weeks ago I began to tell a story about our Buddha statue, one of the catalysts for starting this blog. I’m loath to leave a storyline open-ended or keep the six or seven followers I’ve gained since then (shout out!) dangling, so I guess that’s a good place to go this week…

From all windows in the back of our home we can see our new Buddha statue. It sits humbly amongst the herbs and lavender in a small bed in the back yard near where Henry plays toddler basketball, practices jumping and sets up his race car track on sunny days. We purchased the statue from a free trade store in our Seattle neighborhood of Queen Anne a month and a half ago. Larry and I looked at hundreds of sculptures of all kinds over the last few years, searching for the one that spoke to us, that had the right energy and simplicity. We knew in a moment this – calm, beautiful and still in its shipping crate from the owner’s recent trip to Bali – was the one.

For the first week I found myself seeking him out whenever I was in prime viewing rooms: the kitchen, the office/guest room and Henry’s room. We all did. At bedtime before I closed his blinds, Henry would cock his head sideways, look out at Buddha, wave and say goodnight, which these days sounds mostly like “beebee.” In the morning when we hatched our way down to the kitchen with Henry in our arms, he made sure to say a special good morning to our guardian friend. That week was chilly and wet, so we didn’t much venture out to Buddha, but his presence was felt.

The following weekend the spring sunshine favored us and the yard became the preferred play area. We always said hello to Buddha when entering his realm of the garden, but Larry and I had no regular ritual nor had ever demonstrated one in front of Henry. Then, one afternoon, in the middle of testing which car sped the fastest around the hairpin curve, Henry stopped, picked up his favorite yellow utility truck and placed it gently in Buddha’s open hand. Then he took his brand new drag racer with blue flames on its hood and offered that too. Then he turned around and continued playing.

Over that weekend he offered pebbles, rocks, flowers and more cars. He tried to balance his water bottle in the crook of the statue’s arm, but couldn’t figure it out. He pulled up his Henry-sized monkey folding chair in front of Buddha and sat for several seconds looking at him before getting up and sitting between Mama and Daddy who were watching him in wonder from the garden steps.

Even the strangest concepts seem obvious when you see them unfold so naturally before your eyes. Especially in the last several years, I’ve experienced countless things many may consider extraordinary, even impossible – all part of the package when you start to explore seeing your world more clearly — and as so many of you fellow parents can understand, parenthood has only increased the regularity and normalcy of the “bizarre.” It is so easy to take for granted what many call everyday miracles when you’re negotiating the sippy vs. big person cup conundrum or walking your child to go poopy in the potty. However, this one got our attention.

Here’s what I believe Henry was reminding us that weekend. Children We all have an innate sense, a gut instinct, a strong intuition, a clairvoyance, a memory, a higher self, a wisdom, a voice, whatever you want to call it, that allows us to just know…whatever we need to know. And most of what we know to our core is love.

Henry loves and shows respect for Buddha without even thinking about how he knows to do it. Thoughts, expectations, obligations, beliefs, right and wrong. They don’t have anything to do with it. It is unconditional and without logic. It is simply love and connection. He wants to make an offering in that moment, so he does.

That’s what he came out of the womb understanding…being. We all did. We all are born at peace, connected to both the center of the universe and the center of the earth. It’s allowing ourselves to remain there that’s the tricky part. And, as Buddha teaches, sitting in that is where we learn whatever it is we are here to learn.

I believe it’s that simple. Simple doesn’t necessarily mean easy, but our children often make it look that way. Okay, they know it is. Henry will help me remember that.