In the early spring, when all this social distancing began, we were all about discovering fun family games to play. One of our kids’ favorites at the time was Capture the Flag. We would have one flag location in the front yard and one in the back. We would sneak around trying to capture the other team’s flag. The kids loved this game and would beg us to play it over and over every night after dinner. My husband always finds a way to bring some silliness into every game and for capture the flag, he spent most of his time trying to distract the kids by telling them there was something amazing they had to see….just over there… up in the sky…down in the dirt…over in the tree,….and then grabbing the flag and making a run for it. The kids started doing it too and before we knew it, everyone was pointing to things and trying to sound as dramatic as possible, as in: “Mommy, you HAVE to see this!!!!” We were all so used to it that no one was falling for it anymore.
So it was extra funny one night, when Elise spotted an actual, living baby owl on top our swingset. It was little and round and beautiful…sitting so still like a little statue. Elise said, “Mommy! Daddy! It’s a baby owl!” and we were like…”Yeah right…” Then she said, “Theo, Gus! It’s a baby owl!!” And Theo said, “Oh yeah, good trick Elise.” Gus said, “I don’t BELIEVE you!” Then Elise started yelling, “For REAL! It’s ACTUALLY a BABY OWL!” And we all said, “NICE TRY ELISE!” But then Gus gave in and looked over…he froze on the spot. So we all looked over. And we couldn’t believe it! A baby owl! We stood there in utter astonishment….no one wanting to move or make a sound now that we had finally realized we were in the presence of an actual baby owl. We had never seen this owl before and we haven’t seen him since. It was a magical, one of a kind moment that passed when the little guy flapped away.
This event reminds me of a book I’ve been reading called A New Earth by Ekhart Tolle. Tolle talks about what it’s like to just BE. In the book he describes a conversation he had with a woman he was counseling. It starts with her speaking (pg. 40), “And suddenly I could feel my I Am-ness.” Then Tolle continues, “That is the joy of being, you can only feel it when you get out of your head. Being must be felt. It can’t be thought.” He explains later in the book (pg. 52) “…close your eyes for a moment and find out if there is life inside your hands. Don’t ask your mind, go to the hands directly. By this I mean become aware of the subtle feeling of aliveness inside them. It is there.” Being caught completely off guard by the baby owl sighting, when we were so consumed by the game, brought me back to the joy of being and the feeling of aliveness.
It’s crazy to realize that the joy of being and the feeling of aliveness is available to me at any moment. I’ve been experimenting with the concept. The baby owl moments of life are a quick jolt of presence. Moments of frustration, annoyance and anger (things I feel pretty often as a mom of 3 remote learning students trying to keep it all together and run my business) are reminders to get back to the place of presence…to connect with my inner body aliveness…to look around me…to remember there is magic here, now, in THIS CRAPPY MOMENT! And to realize that there actually are no crappy moments…so if that’s my experience, I must be pretty far down the rabbit hole of miserable thoughts. It’s time to snap into a different kind of attention…switch the thinking to off…and keep it off for a time.
I’ll leave you with one wonderful quote by Pema Chodron, from her book When Things Fall Apart (pg. 129), “The world is always displaying itself, always waving and winking, but we are so self-involved that we miss it. The experience of sticking with it, of not giving up, is one in which the whole world, everything that we see, becomes extremely vivid and more solid, and at the same time, less substantial and more transparent.”