Connect by Disconnecting

I spent the past week with my amazing five-year-old grandson, Ethan. It was a week of “hanging out.” We spent time swimming, hiking, building puzzles and lego, relaxing at the zoo, chasing butterflies, reading stories, and, of course, napping.

Okay, I napped while he played. One morning we just laid on floor together and listened to a bird that sang in a way that captivated us both. One evening we sat and watched a caterpillar meander it’s way across the sidewalk for what seemed like hours. We bought a plastic paratrooper for a dollar and spent an evening throwing it up in the air and watching the parachute open. It was a wonderful holiday spent with a great kid. I came home refreshed, invigorated, and exhausted (it’s hard work playing with a five year old for a week!) Every time Ethan I spend time together my respect, admiration, and appreciation for stay-at-home parents increases.

And while my time with Ethan passed something else was going on. In order to be connected to Ethan, I was disconnected. No computers. No emails. No work. Just letting go and being present in the moment, allowing Ethan’s rhythm to become my rhythm. When I started to drift and become preoccupied with thoughts  about work, Ethan would inevitably do something to bring my attention back to what was in front of us. Time seemed to “shift” as I became more present to each present and precious moment. It had nothing to do with “time management” or finding a better use of time. It was like having a whole new relationship with time, with Ethan, and with life. I had the experience of having, in the words of one of my great teachers, Winnie the Pooh, “…so much time… so little to do.”

How do you stay mindful? How do you stay present?