When I was a child, autumn would come around with the excitement of Halloween and leaf piles, Thanksgiving and Christmas right around the corner. It was a time of year filled with anticipation and fun. I loved this time of year: dressing up for Halloween and trick-or-treating around the neighbourhood, crunching through dried leaves and playing simple games of football with the siblings, gathering with family for Thanksgiving and watching the parade (the Detroit parade, thank you very much) smelling the wonderful scents of food being prepared for later. And always there was the waiting for that first snow.
Oftentimes in later years, we would still be waiting on Christmas Eve, sitting in our pews at Midnight Mass praying for snow flurries before Christmas Day was actually upon us. Of course that first snow is magical, with it's crisp freshness that frosts everything in delightfully white beauty. It evens out the landscape as it also slips into the notches of bare branches and outlines each pine needle, bringing detail to previously unnoticed areas. And after some brief admiration of the beauty, we kids would rush out to destroy every last inch of it. Snowballs, snowmen, forts (if we were lucky enough to have that much snow), sledding... immersing ourselves in the cold, wet world of winter until exhaustion set in.
Yesterday was our second snowfall, actually. And Jacob wanted to get out into it as soon as possible. With two bottles filled with coloured water, his rain boots and a fleece, he was off. To watch him was pure joy for me. There was nothing else in his brain but playing. Decorating the snow in colour, throwing the bottles around, whatever occurred to him.
As I watched him, I felt his joy and relaxation in the moment. I could feel my cares slip away and happiness fill me. I was slowly unloading the dishwasher but kept returning to the window to watch him and to smile and laugh. Such bliss in living in the moment!
Why is it so easy for grownups (or at least for me) to lose that ability to live in the moment? To seek joy and be free in it? Responsibility? Endless lists running through our heads of things to do? Needing to think about the future some of the time in order to allow our little ones that bliss of living in the moment? All of these reasons and more.
But also, could it be true that we have learned to listen to voices within us that distract us from the true living of life? I know I have some pretty loud voices in me that tell me if I'm not doing something from my list, then I'm not being productive. They tell me I have to be in charge of things or those things won't get done (or done to my liking). As a grownup, it is harder for me to abandon all those thoughts and really feel the joy in a moment. It's hard to start a project and not be able to finish it for hours (or days or weeks....). It's especially hard to feel like I am making such slow progress on organizing my house when I know I have a limited time before I have even less time and energy to do so.
It was a gift to watch Jacob in the snow yesterday. It was also a reminder. A reminder that the important things in life are the moments. The moments of joy and togetherness and playing that we take for ourselves, that we allow ourselves to enjoy. In thirteen years or so, when Jacob is going off on his own, I probably won't remember all the things around the house that needed to get done now. But if I'm lucky, I just might remember him playing in the snow.