We must make time to stand and stare. However, this wisdom came to me after a harrowing experience. It was 4 pm on a Friday afternoon. A particularly busy day with back-to-back meetings in buildings all over the vast office campus. I clutched onto my laptop and sprinted across the courtyard to get to the next meeting. That’s when it happened. I felt it drop. There was no mistaking it. I was 6 months pregnant and I felt the baby drop. I panicked and called my husband. The next thing I know, I am in my doctor’s office sobbing. He looks at me with his concerned eyes and says in a calm voice, “This is it. You have to make a choice. You can continue to work the way you are right now or slow down to focus on having this baby.”
It was an easy decision.
He arrived at 38 weeks, weighing a whopping 10 lbs 5 ounces. We had been expecting and preparing for a premature baby who would have to fight for his life. Instead, he chose to take his time, arrive in a leisurely fashion, breaking all kinds of records including ‘heaviest baby of the month’ at the hospital.
This young man turns 11 today. He has taught me so many things but even before he was born he was teaching me a very valuable lesson. One that I have only recently begun to appreciate and practice. To stand and stare. As some would say, to be truly present in the moment.
A few months ago, for a school project, Rohan put together a presentation on his family members. The slide about me was titled, ‘Life with mom’. You know that feeling before you walk into a performance review? You think about all the things you have done well and all that you could have done better. Then you brace yourself for what’s to come. I wasn’t prepared for what followed.
Here is what he presented on his slide about mom. A masterclass in why we must make time to stand and stare.
“Life with Mom.
1. I love watching documentaries with mom because I love animals and mammals. She is the only one in this family that likes animals besides me.
2. I love cooking with mom. We are always making something delicious. We make amazing food like bruschetta or greek salad.
3. We love going to the beach and collecting seashells. We also like bird or whale watching.
We enjoy a lot of things.”
Below is a picture of Rohan presenting with the slide up on a large tv screen.
I sat there stunned and quite honestly very surprised by this. I had expected to hear about how he appreciated my nurture and care. Instead, his appreciation was for all the things that HE has taught me how to do. During a recent mother-son outing, I told him how much I appreciated him teaching me how to be a kid again. I told him that he has taught me how to enjoy spending time in nature, enjoy the process of cooking amazing food with fresh local ingredients, and most of all, to fully enjoy the present moment. He looked at me and said, “Mom, but YOU taught me how to do all that. I guess we inspire each other.” I smiled ear to ear hiding the happy tears that flowed shortly after.
This reminded me of a poem we learned in school. I bring it up today because I think it articulates what my son has taught me.
Leisure by William Henry Davies
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
Today I honor my son for his teachings and for reminding me to do the things that I had forgotten how to do.
Nature is a healer.
Spending time in nature every day is essential to our well being. I often find myself heading to the beach or the Baylands a few times a month. Something about being near water has a surprisingly calming effect on me.
Image below of Rohan standing next to a red kayak at the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve. One of our favorite places to watch birds.
Food is medicine.
One of my happy places is the Mountain View Farmer’s Market. It gives me great pleasure to be in the presence of produce and the people who are responsible for it. It gives me great joy to buy organic, seasonal produce, and cook seasonal recipes for my family. I once called my husband crying because I had finally found squash blossoms. I was so overjoyed that day! Allow yourself to be treated by nature’s bounty. You will not regret it.
An image below of my farmer’s market bounty – olallieberries, lemon cucumbers, squash blossoms among other things.
Play is not just for kids.
I love to play. I am not referring to sports or video games. Do you remember what it was like to play as a kid? The joy and simplicity of it are what I miss. My son and I love to play with legos, play on the swings, play badminton, and of course, our all-time favorite game – Rummy with Mummy – which I am proud to say I have consistently been beaten at by both my children.
Image below of a display of some of Rohan’s lego creations.
Animals are great teachers.
My son and I went whale watching last year in the Monterey area. It was one of the most spectacular outings. We saw dozen of whales but my most favorite one was the humpback that kept circling the boat. She was a “friendly one” they said. I just stood there staring at her majestic existence. You feel so insignificant and irrelevant in the presence of animals. They are the ones that are truly living their life to the fullest, fulfilling their life’s purpose. And yet, as the most evolved of beings, we are so confused, lost, and unsure of where life is taking us! Being in the presence of animals has taught me so much about being present. Rohan and I have a running list of animal expeditions we want to go on. We would love to visit Saya, the lone black panther at Kabini National Forest in India. go on an African safari, visit the many animals at the Yellowstone National Park, and closer to home, our next is to catch the bioluminescence kayak tour in Tomales bay.
Image below of Rohan standing in front of a wooden whale statue posing like the whale just before our expedition.
Rohan wanted a bird feeder for his birthday. We filled it up with birdseed and hung it up on a tree in our backyard. As I write this, I see a few little birds gathering in the backyard to scope it out. Here comes another one! Rohan is thrilled!
Image below of the birdseed feeder in our tree.
Perhaps this will inspire you to take a few minutes today to simply stand and stare. To admire. To be grateful. To breathe and to truly, fully be present in the moment that is now.
Happy Birthday, Rohan. I couldn’t be prouder to be your mom!
Do you like our stories? You can read more at The Accidental Ally https://theaccidentalally.com/blog/
- David Attenborough’s Life on our Planet is a great one to watch. We love all his work but this one we absolutely loved. You can watch it on Netflix. The trailer can be watched at this link – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64R2MYUt394
- Disney’s documentary Wings of Life, narrated by Meryl Streep is a visual delight. I love Monarchs so this goes into the journey and fascinating life of monarch butterflies. https://nature.disney.com/wings-of-life
- Rohan and I loved this documentary called ‘My octopus teacher’ about a man’s lifelong friendship with an octopus. Fascinating story! You can watch it on Netflix. Link to the trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3s0LTDhqe5A
- If you have never been to a Farmer’s Market, I highly recommend you visit one. More information about the Mountain View market can be found at this link – https://www.mountainview.gov/depts/cs/events/farmers.asp
- The Baylands Nature Preserve is truly a gift for the bay area. A great place to go bird watching. You can learn more about it at this link – https://www.cityofpaloalto.org/gov/depts/csd/parks/preserves/baylands.asp
- There are many operators in this area but we used this one. You can view their whale watching options at this link – https://montereybaywhalewatch.com/
- About Saya (means Shadow) the black panther – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gysBYAP_imE
- Bioluminescencece Kayak Tours – https://www.outbackadventures.com/trips_classes/kayaking/kayak_trips/bioluminescence_tomales_bay/