Deeper in to Presence.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

I sat on the hard gym floor, resting my chin in my hands, shifting side to side uncomfortably, trying to find a soft place to land, but failing miserably.
Yet keeping my eyes glued on my 9-year-old, running drills at his first basketball practice.  
The screeching of new shoes on shiny floors and the coaches hearty claps and shouts of encouragement more than enough to keep me distracted from my physical discomfort.
Besides, I have to show up for this one, my youngest. 
He LIVES for my attention.  LOVES for us to see him.
(Which, really, is what we all want, right?  To be seen?)

He's the kid that waves to me from the bus window until I'm out of sight.  The one that kisses me on the cheek and hugs me unapologetically as many times as he can before leaving for the day.  Literally watches and waves to me the whole entire way as he walks in to school after drop-off, until he's entered the building.

Seriously, kill me now.  The sweetness of this little boy.
So shame on me if I don't give him my utmost attention, no matter how mundane the event or how numb my butt cheeks are from sitting in the same spot for too long.
As he struggles for big lay-ups on his little legs, I return his waves and give him big thumbs up for doing his best and trying again.

And for a second I peer down the line of parents sitting alongside me with their backs against the wall, heads down, faces buried in their phones.  No doubt lost in a sea of social media, text messages, never-ending emails, likes, dislikes, comments, emoji's, opinions, facts. . .
"Jesus Christ,"  I think.
Not one person watching their kid.
"What the fuck are we doing here?" I wonder.

In defense of all parents everywhere, elementary-school age basketball "practice" isn't the most thrilling thing to witness.  And clearly I'm only making assumptions about what people are doing on their phones.  I really have no clue.  They could be doing life-saving things on there.  Working.  Organizing schedules.  Texting encouraging words to someone in dire straits.  

After all, I too, had my phone in my right hand, poised and ready to distract when things got to be mind-numblingly boring.  Yes, willing to sacrifice my son's happiness and joy in having an attentive parent that cares about what he's doing.  Simply to look away to peruse my Instagram feed for the 756th time that day.

Why?  What's there that's not here?  
What's more important than where I am right now?
What am I missing in my life that I'm going to find hidden in a little glowing, electronic square? 

I already know the answer.  
Nothing.

Right next to me, was this OTHER mom.  No phone.  No iPad.  
She sat with a BOOK.  READING to her older son.  READING A BOOK.  He was clearly old enough to read, but she just sat and read TO him.  And when he said, "Mom?  Let's stop.  This is boring."  She replied, "Yeah, let's move."  And they got up to shoot hoops together on an open net.  Oh my heaven's, I haven't seen anything like that in. . .forever.  Filling time BEING together versus drowning in a sea of emotions triggered by Facebook rants.

I was in total awe of her.  Going against the grain.  Seemingly not at all appeased by the allure or temptation of the gleam of digital images, the latest news or most recent tweets.  

THAT'S what I want.

I was quickly overcome with complete and utter sadness.  An odd and unexpected heartache and disgust that infiltrated my bones and brought tears swiftly to the surface.  And I looked past her back down the line of parents with their heads bowed, lost in screens and a life separate from what was actually happening in front of them.

I saw myself in each one of them.

"Oh my God.  What am I doing?  What have I missed?"

This isn't the first time I've had this thought or these powerful feelings, but I've been ignoring them.
And then I looked back at the woman, chasing her oldest son up and down the court, laughing, playing, TOTALLY PRESENT to life and what was in front of her.  The most important thing on the planet earth, her child.  Despite what her life might look like outside those gym walls, she was HERE.

And my gaze went back to my son.  My son.  Oh my gosh.  He's 9.  When did he get so big?  So. . .old?  It was like years of blurred vision coming in to incredible focus.  
I see him everyday, but I felt like I was REALLY seeing him.  
And I felt like I hardly knew him even though he is my son.  
He's been growing this whole time?  What else have I missed?
And I started to daydream.

HE was nestled in my hands once.  
Until he was too heavy to hold and before the hard plastic and the cold, rose gold composite took his place.  
He was resting in a cocoon of blankets, fast asleep.  
Tuckered out after a long journey from my belly to his new life outside the womb.
The nurse gave me a wink and a smile as if to say, "I'll leave you two alone."  She turned the lights down low and clicked on a woodwinds CD in the stereo before she left.

I've had some pretty incredible moments in my life, but this has been one of the most beautiful thus far.  The night after he was born I told my husband it was okay to go home and get some sleep and be with the other two.  
It was so quiet in the hospital.  I laid with my baby on my lap facing me, in a sea of blankets and I swear all I did was take turns staring at him and out the window in to the night sky, as he slept.  Only moving to nurse him or move to adjust my legs.  
But TOTALLY PRESENT.
Nothing else to do.  No where else to be.  Nothing to report.  Just doing my job.  Being present in my role as mother.

Until the sun came up, this is what I did.  It was one of the most spiritual experiences I've ever had.  It is the most present I have ever been.  

I KNOW that level of presence is there for the taking, whenever I want it.
And I don't think it's impossible to reclaim after years of conditioning in a world behind screens.
Although social media is an incredible way to connect to others, promote businesses, art and inspire well-being, for me, it has become a hindrance.

I have to now ask myself, 

"Who are you?  Who are you without all of that?
Without all the carefully crafted images?
The well-thought out words?
What can you do with the HOURS.  LITERALLY HOURS of time you'd otherwise spend gawking at the lives of others, rather than living your own?

I have to see.

Get a job?
Cook more healthy dinners for my family?
Learn to slay on guitar?
Write an ACTUAL book?

Something more concrete my children can pull up and read one day?
Who knows?!

I've been feeling this incredible urge to go back to what it was like before iPhone's and Instagram and Facebook.  Gosh, it feels impossible.  But I love walking in to what I see as impossible in my mind and experimenting.

I'm craving simplicity and an even more quiet life of sacredness shared between my family and I.
To go back to basics.  Writing for myself.  For my kids.  Sharing my art but without self-promotion or an agenda.

This will no doubt require some serious self-discipline and have to be made a daily practice.

But my gosh, I know it'll be worth it.

My attention had been brought back.
And there he was.  Racing up and down the court, a smile from ear to ear.  Waving and skipping.

I don't want to miss any more of this.  Almost a decade has passed without my noticing.  And another one will end in a heartbeat.

Seems like reason enough to drop it, huh?

If you'd like to connect or stay in touch, feel free to email me at ewesterhaus@gmail.com.
Or check in here for future writing and photography.
Peace,
Love,
Liz



1 comments:

Nancy said...

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