I turned on my meditation app last week to the soothing, singsong voice that if I’m honest, I sometimes find annoying (probably because I need more meditation). After a brief instruction on posture, the voice began, “And now, just pause any mental activity that’s occupying your mind.”
HA! The value of that day’s meditation was that it made me laugh. If people knew how to do that on demand, would there be meditation apps?
The rest of that day I spent inside, getting the house ready for visitors and our first pool party since the year before the pandemic. By late afternoon, my daughter was antsy so my husband took her outside to jump in rain puddles with a friend.
Inside, I made dinner while writing something in my head, occasionally typing phrases to remember once back at my desk. I was also thinking about a family member’s health crisis, some friends navigating a tough situation, a New York Times article about resilience, and Creative Pinellas Artist Laureate Helen French’s honest, clear-eyed prose in her recent blog post. Somewhere between my ears was the rest of the party prep to-do list bonking around, and a meme I’d come across the day before about motherhood as a state of worry that never leaves.
I can’t remember what I made for dinner. You get the picture. Distracted.
Later that night, I looked through a series of photos my husband had taken outside of my daughter and her friend, and their gradual steps closer to earth as one by one, various items went absent from the photos over time: umbrella discarded, then boots, then socks, until both girls were barefoot and jumping in full abandon to the raindrops that caught the light around them and sprayed from puddles at their feet.
Outside the frame, in images only available to imagination, two fathers. Huddling under the abandoned mermaid umbrella? Or more likely, getting soaked in their t-shirts having yielded to the rain, witnessing the gleam on little girls’ faces that I’d missed. Ouch, heart twist, tinge of regret for a moment lost to dinner and brain clamor.
The next day, the pool was finally full of children again. I took a break from hosting to join them, interrupted only by my occasional admonitions about pool rules and avoiding emergency rooms on the Fourth of July. Within all this were welcome moments of abandon: cannonballs, deep plunges into a muted underwater summertime world, swimming past little busy legs and floats careening across the pool, emerging to laughter. I had forgotten how much I missed our ridiculous and poorly synchronized big-group jumps into the deep end, the delight of adults acting like children in the best way possible, the broad smiles on faces when we jumped with abandon into the air.
Now that is a meditation. The grounding of the body in a moment. No words to write or think, no connections of ideas forging webs across my brain.
I won’t lie, there were a few chiropractor-inducing moments when I was pulled down by my neck by a clinging child who may have blasted my eardrum with close-range screams. But those are the consequences of pretending I can keep up with my child, who lives in full abandon to the present moment as only children and maladjusted irresponsible adults can. (Just kidding! Mostly.)
Whatever it is you are creating with your life and whatever your biggest challenge is right now, the purpose of this week’s blog is a wish. May you find your moments of abandon to the possibilities for joy that appear around you. If in the midst of a personal winter, may you find your invincible summer. Or, to improve upon Camus, make that a cannonball. May you find your invincible cannonball, and may it make you happy.