Slowing Down

Summer. Positive, optimistic connotations ooze from the very essence of that word. I picture an expansive sky with a bright sun, speckled with sporadic clouds. I hear the sounds of two kids playing catch in their front yard; one lets out a careless giggle as the ball whizzes past their hand. I feel the gentle breeze brush past my face and the warm rays massage my skin. I taste the succulent watermelon gush through my mouth as I take a fulfilling bite. This is the time of year when the busy, painful rush of the year ends, and we all get to step back and enjoy ourselves a little more. Relaxation is number one in summer.

My first day of summer was, not surprisingly, just the opposite. It was a whirlwind. I had one activity after another, and barely any time to think in between. Robotics at 12. Check, done. Piano at 2. Check, done. License test at 3:20. Check, done. Soccer at 5:30. Check, done. Collapse from exhaustion. Check, done. Finally, I lay in bed reading a book, decompressing after the long day. I love all the activities I’m in, but I can’t help but get caught up in everything that I do. One little deviation from my schedule, one little distraction, one little imperfection, and instantly I would be thrown into frustration.

After a nice long night of sleep (maybe a little bit too long) I felt rejuvenated. I woke up in a great mood and went down to my kitchen to pour myself some cereal. As the Cheerios cascaded into my bowl, my mom walked into the kitchen carrying a bag of groceries – yes, I woke up that late. I helped her put the food away, and very soon she got to talking about a heartwarming episode she had witnessed in the store. It went a little bit like this:

A mother and her four-year-old daughter were in line, waiting to pay for their groceries. While the mom was fumbling through her purse looking for money, the tiny girl next to her was pointing to a box of chocolate fudge bars in their cart while repeating,”Mommy, can I eat one when I get home? Mommy! Mommy, can I eat one when I get home?” The little girls face was pure excitement and anticipation. That innocent smile could light up the world. Meanwhile, the mom was still fumbling through her purse; her daughter’s words flying in one ear and out the other.

This tiny snippet of time was all it took to bring true realization into my mom’s day. Slowing down and choosing to focus on the present. The mom and little girl were so mindful of their current state, so content with the present. The smallest of events, eating a chocolate bar, brought that little girl more optimism and enthusiasm than most of us get all day. No more than thirty seconds could have passed from the beginning to the end of that episode. Yet those thirty seconds were a treasure. The mom fumbling for money may not even have appreciated it, but she was still a part of it. She was in the moment with her daughter. Spending her precious time with a little mind that was eager to experience the world. That is a treasure.

After hearing this charming story, I thought about my busy, external life. With so much going on, I barely focus on the present. I never give a second glance to those little things that mean so much in life: learning about college experiences from my grandpa, talking about my day at the dinner table, having a conversation with my mom while driving to a piano lesson, or playing a game of monopoly with my sister. These treasured situations are around us all day, and so often they’re fleeting to us, passing without acknowledgment or recognition. As is the case with the small girl and her mom, it’s often easier to recognize somebody else’s treasure than our own. Hearing that story from my mom was a gift and a reminder to me. A reminder to choose the present, and slow down. Appreciate what I have – precious moments won’t last forever. One day I will look back and wish with all my might that I could relive them. But if I choose now to live through them with meaning the first time, I won’t have to.

In my coming summer days, I will try my best to enjoy every moment of every day. I’ll soak up the warm rays of Sun and listen to children laugh while playing catch with a newfound wisdom. A wisdom I hope to carry with me as I relax together with the people who are most important in my life.

Summer

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