To pay attention…


To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.

-Mary Oliver

A hawk schooled me today. There I was with my nose in a book walking across campus when not twenty feet to my right, a hawk blew past me with a large squirrel hanging from its talons. What an incredible sight. I looked around me and there was just one other person walking in front of me on his headphones. He was not phased by the creature. I stood motionless. My eyes moving with the hawk’s flight. It perched itself up in the barren tree content to hold its kill as it watched the kids pass by bundled up against the frigid winds. I braved pulling off my glove to get a picture; it was way too cold to zoom in or adjust. Just snap.

I walked back to my office with my book closed and lodged between papers in my backpack. I looked at the Cuzzins yogurt shop with the chairs flipped over on the tables. When did that place start closing at 2 pm? Maybe some day I will open an ice cream store like Ri and I used to talk about doing on Grandview Ave. when she was 4 years old. I watched as a young kid motioned his arms up and down to the beat of what must have been some good rappin’ on his iPod. I wondered if Mario would be engaging in these same moves when he’s a teenager or whether he’d be jamming out to his uncle Jack’s funk or maybe his own jams; will he learn piano or the drums or the sax, like Jackson? I stared too long at a guy who wore shorts and a t-shirt and casually strolled down High Street in the -4 degree weather as if it was mid-Summer. And I thought of Ri and her ability to go outside during these past couple of weeks with no hat or gloves and survive. She has Jon’s and my warm blood in her. After all, she stayed at the sledding hill a half hour after Mario left freezing and after I begged her to go (noticing it was 1 degree on my phone).

Oh, so this is what it is like to walk without a book in hand or a phone or a magazine or a law article. Oh… what a treat to observe things and people and moments, to imagine what life may have in store, to smile at a past memory with my kids.

Living in the Moment

I am in full-blown new year’s resolution mode.  Thinking of what I want to change in 2012 and what I want to do better.  Trying not to beat myself up for the things I did not get accomplished in 2011.  Trying to recognize the things that I did accomplish.

Livin' in the moment at Darby Creek

One thing I worked really hard at this past year was being in the moment – with the kids, with Jon, with family, with work colleagues, with running, with wrapping presents, with washing dishes.  I recognize the times that I achieve this task because I walk away from the moment feeling fulfilled.  I still remember two years ago at our old house.  I had picked up Maria and Mario early from daycare in order to spend the afternoon with them.  We got home, picked out some chips and sandwiches and sat in the front yard for a picnic.  My phone rang.  I picked it up.  It was work.  I began to discuss an issue with my colleague.  I continued to make faces at M&M trying to show them I was there with them even though I was on the phone.  After 10 minutes, Maria rose up from the picnic and walked to the sidewalk.  She looked angry.  I tried to push my colleague to the end of the conversation but she kept talking.  Maria started crying.  I realized what I had done and hung up the phone.  I walked Maria and Mario to the alley in the back of the house.  We put Mario in his plastic “car” with a long handle on the back.  Maria went behind him and grabbed the handle.  We took off all the way down the alley.  Mario looked back at us laughing hysterically.  Maria looked up at me giggling.  And I breathed in that moment in order to have it forever.  Two years later I remember it like it was an hour ago.  That is what I want more of for 2012.  More clear moments with family and friends and myself where I allow myself to be fully present.

This poem by Mary Oliver is pasted on my desk and it always reminds me to live more in the moment: 

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?