Recently I went on a walk with my younger son. He has been earning money this summer doing chores and extra homework (yes, I pay my kids to do extra homework), and he decided he wanted to spend some of his hard-earned cash on candy since I won’t buy it for him.
So we took a walk to 7-Eleven. After twenty minutes of agonizing over every candy bar in every row we started our walk back–at approximately a fraction of the speed of my normal pace. My son needed to stop for every little thing that caught his attention–the dragon fly sunning himself on the neighbor’s rose bush, a stray stick, a hair clip discarded in the gutter. He was having a great time. For him the walk back home was a novelty. An event. But for me it was painful. I was busy. I had a list of a million Important Things To Do.
But then I had a moment of clarity: My son had it right, and I had it all wrong.
Because isn’t life about stopping and enjoying the moment? The to-do list will never truly be done. And especially for me as a writer, shouldn’t I be pausing to examine the moments of my days (and really, shouldn’t we all)? Cataloging the pattern of the honeybee’s flight. Asking myself why there’s a discarded hair clip in the gutter? (Who did it belong to? What is her story?) Memorizing the pattern of my son’s shadow as he meanders his way up the street.
The deadlines will be met, one way or another. And two weeks from now I won’t remember what was on that to-do list. But I will remember how brave my five-year-old was when he handed over his treasured quarters to the cashier. Or how a walk home for him wasn’t about getting from point A to point B, but memorizing all of the small, vivid details that most of us adults are too busy to notice.
What about you? Taken any good walks lately? How are you stopping to enjoy the moment?