I was sitting at the open mouth of my garage with my son Nathan, last Friday. I was enjoying a cigar and much-needed after-work beer and he was being his usual energetic, hyper self. Nathan has never been much of one to sit still, and he comes by that honestly. Especially considering I come from a long dynasty of ADD and OCD individuals. I’ve always had difficulties sitting still for extended periods of time, and I’ve developed a number of noticeable (and sometimes annoying) ticks in my attempts to control it.
Lucky for me that I’ve had martial arts and meditation to help control and focus my energy and attention. I’ve been able to get through my childhood without the usual doctor visits and the medications that can sometimes ensue when doctors diagnose a kid with multiple acronyms. But not everyone has that benefit or can pursue that lifestyle. Although I was willing to put the time and effort in, especially since I spent my childhood watching my older brother swallow tons of pills every day, Nathan is very much his own person and prefers to ride the wave. He enjoys his energy and prefers to run, jump and use it in tandem with his youthful energy.
He finally came to a momentary halt when he realized I was watching the final fight scene from Avengers: Endgame and came running over to watch with me. He set up a chair next to me and watched until the clip was over, then indicated he wanted more. I then suggested that he simply sit still and observe life. He laughed at me and said I was being weird. But he sat in a chair and looked at me expectantly, as though I would be revealing some great, unknown secret. So I did…
Here’s the exchange that ensued:
ME: “Look outside towards the street. What do you see?”
Nathan: (Laughs) “Nothing!”
ME: “Look closer. There’s a lot going on, out there. What do you see?”
Nathan: “I still don’t see anything…”
ME: “Want to know what I see?”
ME: “There’s a breeze flowing through the branches of the trees. Some squirrels are wandering the grass and trees. I can hear some birds chirping, here and there. I can also hear some of the vehicle traffic coming from the highway. There are clouds in the sky and people walking on the street.”
Nathan: “Wow, you’re right…”
ME: “There’s always life happening around you, if you’re just able to sit still and watch. And listen. Sometimes, sitting still is good. And important.”
We sat there for almost half an hour, with it being one of the rarest cases in memory of Nathan sitting still without being told to be quiet or sit still. I didn’t want to break the spell, despite the time and the fact that it was only 1 degree outside and actually quite chilly. I like to think that he may have learned something and actually recognized the importance of controlling his energy and sitting still. The follow day, he was back to his usual, rambunctious self.
We don’t always see everything that happens in the world around us. Our daily lives make it as such that we usually only focus on our own existence while concerning ourselves about the worries of the future. But there is so much more to the world, even in our own small piece of it. Maybe if we could see it from high above, we’d recognize that fact. But sometimes you’ll notice all the life around you, if you can simply learn to be still… ☯