Not so long ago on the day when spring arrived in our city on cat feet, we convened on our front porch to savour the warming breezes. After a suitably reflective time spent surveying our awakening gardens and our peaceful neighbourhood, my husband said, “If we won a lottery and had millions of dollars, this is still exactly where I would want to be.”
What an immeasurable fortune—a life crafted such that no amount of money could make the foundations of it any finer.
This weekend—a long Victoria Day holiday weekend here in Ontario, Canada—my friend Stephen posted this picture on Facebook with the caption “Weekend getaway spot.” When I saw the caption I wondered, “Where is Stephen off to now?” (He travels quite a lot.) I smiled when I recognized the photo as the view of his own background with parkland and a gently murmuring creek beyond.
What an immeasurable fortune he has created for himself and his family. If he had all the money in the world, he would still be happiest right where he is, with the ones he cherishes around him.
My friend Jean spent the long weekend savouring the beauties of her garden in British Columbia, Canada. She posted the photos of her exploding blossoms on her blog page at Poetry to Inspire.
What an immeasurable fortune of natural beauty. If she had all the money in the world, it could not buy her more pleasure than she derives from nature bursting forth.
Speaking of nature bursting forth, we spent some time this long weekend enjoying the Canadian Tulip Festival in my home (vacation) city of Ottawa, Canada.
There is something grounding, centering and reassuring about a festival that celebrates a flower for simply being what it is. The tulips bloom because they cannot help to do so, and we stand back in awe. The tulips don’t have to try, or dress themselves up, or pretend. (The Kardashians could learn from this.)
You know you have done some things right, made quality choices and gravitated toward the positive in life when your home is a favoured vacation spot, and when you know you are exactly where you’re supposed to be.
Send a postcard to yourself, and enjoy Willow Marie’s poetic meditation on being present. Postcard: a meditation
I contemplate the restful disc and imagine it cutting through the air—on the air—in a free, arching flight that captures natural forces, submits to them.
It’s beauty. It’s science. Beautiful science.
The Frisbee needs a hand to set it in motion, otherwise the object at rest would stay at rest. It must have help. It cannot do it alone. When a hand hurls it, the aerodynamic forces of lift and drag, high pressure, low pressure, and spin come into play. The Frisbee soars, graceful in its fulfillment of purpose. The flight doesn’t last forever though. Gravity insists it must land, so the Frisbee touches down to a place of rest once again.
My Frisbee is purpose-built to fly, but that same Frisbee has also served as a doggie water bowl on car trips. Another Frisbee that hangs on my office wall is a messenger; its happy face brings me a message of joy every day. Frisbees might be built to fly, but they can do other things too.
And they come in all different sizes, shapes and colours. Some are ring-shaped. Others are even flat and collapsible for ease of travel.
What can we learn from my upside-down Frisbee?
Maybe we can learn to submit to our beautiful science, the science that says we need a hand to set us in motion. Maybe we can learn to expect and accept that helping hand. Maybe we can learn to capture the forces that surround us and submit to them so we soar gracefully in our fulfillment of purpose. Maybe we can learn to enjoy the flight while it’s happening, and be present in it. Maybe we can learn that we, too, must land. We can’t fly ALL the time. Maybe we can learn that landing isn’t just acceptable; it’s desirable. Maybe we can learn that landing doesn’t make the flight any less meaningful. The landing and the lying around waiting for the hand to set us in motion once again is as natural and acceptable and beautiful and scientific as a soaring flight. Maybe we can learn to enjoy that landing and be present in it.
Maybe we can learn that we are purpose-built, crafted to fulfill a certain function, but that we can do other things too. Maybe we can be messengers to brighten someone’s day.
Maybe we can learn to appreciate all the different sizes, shapes and colours of each other.
Today, my Frisbee didn’t soar through the air on an arching path, but it did travel through the air in a different way—through me, to you, to give us all something to think about.
Now that’s one faith-full purpose I’ll bet the Frisbee didn’t foresee. Maybe we can learn from that beautiful science?
Read about the science of Frisbee flight at Scientific American: “Soaring Science: The Aerodynamics of Flying a Frisbee”
A memory from the years when my children were in their early teens: I went grocery shopping one morning, without my children, of course. We all know that teenagers would rather insert burning hot needles into their corneas than be caught in public with a parent.
I stopped by the breakfast cereal and debated whether to stick to high fibre, healthy stuff or submit to my son’s plea for Reese’s Puffs. As I stood contemplating these options, a young mother with a baby about ten months old in her cart turned the corner. I watched her approach. She wasn’t looking around at anything in the aisle. (No Reese’s Puffs for her!) Instead she bent forward over her baby and crooned to her with unadulterated, innocent, devoted mother love. I could tell that, in her eyes, her child was perfection itself, incapable of any wrongdoing.
I thought “She has yet to learn that her child is a human being.”
Well, actually, if I were a perfect person, I would have thought that, but I’m a complex, independent, imperfect human being, so what I actually thought was, “She still hasn’t learned that her child can be a little rotter.”
Don’t get me wrong. My children are fabulous, and they make me proud every day. But they’re human, so they are complex, independent and imperfect. They are learning, and they do that by making mistakes.
I still remember the exact moment I learned that my daughter wasn’t perfect, that she wasn’t going to instinctively sense all I wanted her to be and fulfill those expectations. She was three, and her baby brother had just learned to crawl. She didn’t bother much about him before he could move under his own steam, but the minute he crawled across our family room floor and picked up one of her toys, well now, that was a different story She sensed the threat to her domain. My daughter jumped up and began hiding toys out of the reach of her brother.
I watched, aghast. My perfect child was not perfect! She wasn’t instinctively and selflessly going to share everything? What?
My son also had issues with sharing, but his revolved around food. My daughter wasn’t big on sharing toys, but she did share food willingly and joyfully. With a big smile on her face, she offered up french fries or spoonfuls of ice cream without being asked. But my son? No, no, you never could take food away from him. If he sensed an invader, he wrapped his arm around his plate to protect it and shoveled food in before anyone else might get to it.
That day in the cereal aisle the jaded mother of teenagers who had witnessed her children succeed and fail in different ways wondered what that mother’s moment of revelation would be. What would that beautiful, perfect, imperfect baby girl do someday that would open her mother’s eyes to complexities and to the human capacity for meanness or selfishness? What would happen to make that woman realize how different her child was from herself?
Because that’s what the real challenge of motherhood is: Opening our eyes to the complexities and imperfections of our children and accepting them and loving them exactly as is.
Last week I wrote about a meeting with a group of people who have to make a difficult decision. The facilitator asked everyone to consider the costs and benefits of saying “YES” and the costs and benefits of saying “NO.”
The group considered financial repercussions, the effect on personal relationships and the overall societal implications—the usual stuff. When listing the benefits of saying “NO” one group spoke up with: “If we say no, we won’t have to face our fears.”
People nodded. True. So true. The status quo—the comfort zone—is very appealing. The people in the room agreed that saying “NO” would, in many ways, make life a little easier.
But it only took a second or two before there was a reflective pause and a murmur. “Wait a minute,” the murmur said. “Not facing fears would also be a cost.”
We realized that not facing fears is an ingredient in recipes for stagnation, disappointment, dissatisfaction, guilt, depression, anger and lots of other unpleasant aspects of life.
It’s not the easy choice. It’s not the comfortable choice. But sometimes it’s a whole lot of fun, and it’s better than getting stuck between the cracks of life.