“Children see magic because they look for it.” ~Christopher Moore
Take a moment to close your eyes and imagine a beautiful, warm, sunny Sunday afternoon. Where could you possibly be—at home, on a beach, or waiting at a bus stop?
Which of these three scenarios is the most appealing? Most of us would probably choose the beach. However, true enlightenment can be found in all three.
Recently I was waiting for a bus. It was a beautiful, warm, sunny Sunday afternoon. At the bus stop were three ladies. One was and elderly lady in her twilight years, the other was in midlife, and the final one was just a young child.
The lady in her twilight years was laughing with the child and having fun, in between complaining to the child’s mother about having to wait over thirty minutes for a bus.
When talking to the child, the mother in midlife was stressed and impatient. She too was complaining to the lady in her twilight years about the delayed bus.
The child was enjoying being outside, chatting, laughing, and having fun with the elderly lady. She had no concept of time or impatience. She displayed no distress in reaching her destination.
Observing this interaction, I asked the elderly lady if she needed to be somewhere. She said, “No, I’m going home but I actually have nothing to go home for.”
Checking my transit Smartphone app, I attempted to reassure everyone the bus was due in five minutes.
The child’s mother hurriedly said, “No, no. It’s not coming! I’ve been here over thirty minutes and I also have checked the internet.”
How did she know the bus wasn’t coming? Well, her experience told her it wasn’t. She was focusing on the past, and more specifically, a past experience. An experience she’d chosen to make significant, real, and relevant to the present.
I understood how she felt. I’d spent many years thinking that nobody loved me or wanted me after several of my relationships had failed. It was very much like waiting for the next bus, without much hope of it coming.
The older lady said, “This city is going to the dogs!” She’d made a judgment. One that condemned a whole city to doom based on the delay of one single bus.
The older lady was focusing on the future. A future she was predicting based on a single thought she’d had; a future for a whole city. Words we use are significant for they communicate our thoughts, feelings and beliefs.
The young child was in the present. Living in the moment and enjoying her interaction with other human beings, a balloon in her hand, free of judgment and thought.
She seemed happy with the warmth of the sun and a Sunday afternoon at a bus stop.
Then the bus came. The driver opened the door and apologized for the delay, explaining that construction had held him up.
At every stop we encountered, people boarded and complained about the delay to their destination. Throughout this time, the child was oblivious to this, still in the present.
When I got off the bus several stops later, two more were right behind. Two more buses carrying people from A to B.
Buses sometimes come in threes because our journey in life isn’t always the same; it isn’t always predictable. Three buses at once is a blessing, three vehicles for you to choose from, three choices instead of one.
You see, the journey did have beauty. It had a child finding magic in an interaction with another human being, in the warmth of the sun, in the opportunity to stop and play. Unfortunately, some of us sometimes get caught up in getting from A to B.
We sometimes don’t appreciate what’s right in front of our eyes. Sadly, on this day, the mother missed a few precious moments of her daughter growing up.
It made me think of my parents and how I missed them. They are in their eighties and live 6000 miles away. Each day I miss them growing older.
I feel like they are slipping away, and there is sadness in me not being there to hug them and hear their stories each day.
I made a resolution to call them more often, to visit them more often, despite the distance and cost (mere details in the grand scheme of things).
The older lady worried about getting home when she was in no hurry and had expressed nothing to get home for. Sometimes that’s the problem; we don’t have something to travel to.
Like a meteor hitting the Earth, it reminded me of a painful time in my life, when I had nothing to go home for. It was after a particularly bad break-up that scarred me for a number of years.
At that time in my life I was running from hurt, but had nowhere to go. I really understood what the elderly lady was feeling. I could wear her pain. I wanted to simply hold her, tell her she would find a new path. Perhaps I should have been brave and told her that?
As we grow from child to adult, at some point we stop imagining. We stop dreaming. We focus on the details of everyday life that are inconsequential.
A bus is a vehicle. It simply gets us from A to B. We can choose if we want to appreciate the journey.
Appreciate your travels today. There is beauty in every one of them.
Whenever you find yourself getting annoyed, impatient, or frustrated with your journey, ask yourself these questions:
What’s the hurry? What can I appreciate right now? What opportunity has this delay given me? What am I really being impatient with? What am I missing by being this way?
What would a child do right now? What’s truly important to me and what action should I take that I haven’t been?
Powerful questions ground us. They make us reflect, think, and discover. They get us to challenge our assumptions and confront our thoughts.
Do something childlike on every journey you take. Skip to the supermarket. Sing in the elevator. Stop and look all around you. Just see, hear, and appreciate. Life can be beautiful if you let it.