How to be present

The house is full of blankets, most of them small. They are strewn about and grabbed up at random, for tucking tiny feet into car seats and strollers, mopping milk and tiny faces, for keeping cozy while we peak outside in the early morning. The neighbours are gardening, proud and strong. Gardening is such a wholesome habit. Earthy, creative, vibrant, cyclical.

At yoga teacher training in 2008 we all got Karma yoga positions. A chance to give back to the retreat centre where we stayed. My friend worked in the kitchen and became romantically involved with the chef. The same chef who borrowed an acoustic guitar on my behalf during the course and hid it under the table in the front hallway for me to find like a kid on Christmas. They made a cute couple, I think they actually toured tea festivals in Europe afterwards. Oh, to be twenty-two again…

I had the best job – in the garden. Every day for two hours I dug in the earth.

The manager of the gardens was a middle aged Buddhist woman who was wiry and frank and knew the garden intimately. There were three yogi trainees on the team – an unlikely crew including myself, a young male Berliner who was smallish but strong, blonde and remote, and a middle aged Scottish chap, a bit round for what you might expect from a yogi, open and trusting and kind. We all found our own brand of joy in the dirt. In the fresh air of the impossible Scottish North. An old fishing village turned hippie town, where the tide came in and out at a crawl and left the little sail boats teetering on their keels like beached gravestones.

Are these the stories that I’ll tell baby F when she’s older? When we’re done with the blankets and on to shoes with soled feet and solid food and bicycles and then car keys and eventually no evidence at all in the old family house but for a box of report cards in the crawl space? Photos on the wall. The old family house we haven’t bought yet.

We are in the process of losing my grandmother. She’s moved from the large apartment where she and my grandfather lived for twenty-five years to a smaller apartment inside a residence where she can have meals and activities with other people. Where she can find the company and care she needs now. My parents have started to dismantle her life in things. A sterling silver cup won in a running race in 1912 – R.W.Theobald, boys under 15. My great uncle. A sterling silver cup much more permanent than he was, he having died some fifteen years ago.

I look at these blankets that are everywhere. I smell them, I smell baby F. I am a sensitive person with time on my hands, caring for this ten week old baby whose needs still come in unpredictable waves. I wonder about this trail of things we’re all creating behind us. It inspires me to live minimally, acquire less. Meanwhile outside the people garden and the birds sing. Earthy, creative, vibrant, cyclical. No longing for the past, no fear for the future, just the dirt and sun and rain.

The baby wakes up, makes tiny adorable noises and looks at me from her little plush rainforest seat. With intense violet eyes and strong fists stretching up over her head. Feathery dark hair, tongue out, fleeting smiles. Tucked under a flannel blanket. This is how to be present.

 

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