These days, I am thinking a lot about the 3-year-old boy I used to babysit for back at the very beginning of my journey with Body & Brain. In fact, every spring I am reminded of sweet little Nicholas.
As he and I would walk around his suburban neighborhood hand in hand, he would become overjoyed at the sight of every single sprouting flower and leaf. Bringing us both to a full halt, he would stop in his tracks, his whole body shaking with excitement as he would point and shout, “Buds!!!!!” I would chuckle to myself because while I had been distracted with the thoughts spinning around in my head, I had neglected to even notice nature doing her thing. But he never missed a single bud! Big ones, small ones, fat ones, pretty ones – he was amazed by them all alike and never lost an opportunity to point them out. One day we were even crossing a parking lot and, while I was looking both ways checking for cars, he spotted some sneaking out from a crack between the concrete, squatted down right there and, per usual, shouted, “Buds!!!!!”
At that time of my life I really was too busy with my own mental ramblings to appreciate the wonder of it all, as he did. I would make sure to take a good look, assuring him that I saw what he saw, but I fear it was half-hearted. It was as if I felt the need to act like a teacher in a way, like an adult who knew something…”Oh yes, it’s a bud! Oh look, that’s a big one! Yes, isn’t it pretty? I know, soon it’s going to become a flower!” But all of those were just words coming out of my mouth. Lip service in a way. I meant well, of course, it’s just that back then, as much as I don’t like to admit it, my dramatic inner world was far more fascinating to me than those birthing buds.
But now…now is a very different story. Now I go for walks around my own suburban neighborhood and this season explodes throughout my senses. The smell of the air after the rainy winter is so crisp and clean. The first spotting of bunnies hopping about makes me smile. The sound of tiny birds chirping reverberates in my heart, pulling me into the present moment. Yesterday, I was even fortunate enough to see a Robin Red Breast pull a worm out of the ground and eat it right in front of me. I felt like I was in the middle of a children’s book!
The birth of spring is wondrous to me now, and I am finally ready to appreciate it the way little Nicholas taught me to. As I walk and breathe and marvel at the beauty of nature, I let those busy, worrisome thoughts dissolve. They dissolve in the healing smells and sounds of Mother Earth; they dissolve in the gratitude for every cloud I see in the sky; they dissolve in the light of the sun that stays with me for longer hours now, shining through the branches of tall pines as the day turns to night. That light reminds me of who I really am and my heart rests easy again.
It’s a remembering: I am nature. I am alive right here and right now. There is nothing better than being embraced by this sacred moment, even if I am only able to allow my mind to pause there for a short time. What a glorious time it is! And, with the spirit of 3-year-old Nicholas sparkling in my heart, at every corner I turn I whisper to myself, and sometimes, just sometimes, I shout out loud… “Buds!!!”
This one’s for you, Nicholas 😉