Here and Now
I saw a little child laugh today, carefree like, with total concentration at that moment of delight. His object of fascination was his father's hand, which the child was trying to clasp together like a flat pancake with two open palms. The father, a good patient man, offered his free hand like horse’s tail to a mischievous cat, dangling up and down making the child reach and giggle. I couldn’t help but smile too.
The child mesmerized me. There was no sense of future in his eyes. He was totally absorbed in his world, completely immersed with the here and now. No thoughts about where he has to go in 5 minutes. Tomorrow is probably as far as another lifetime for this little being.
Suddenly I then understood why a child cries like the world is ending when an ice-cream cone lands on the ground – because it is. That ice cream cone has the complete attention of the child. It is, in his mind, all the possession he has and will ever own. The child doesn’t think “tomorrow I will buy another one” or “later I will ask my dad for more money”. There is no later. The grief is real, the world is ending.
How wonderful - the ability to love completely. Most adults couldn’t and wouldn’t dare to give completely because we know the world might end. I have probably lived too many Today. All the here and now has blurred together. If I were to loose all the money and possession I have, I wouldn’t feel the same grief as that child who lost his ice cream. I would think, “There is tomorrow, I will get these things back in time”. The price for a sense of future is some detachment from the present. Perhaps God, who would be eternal, sees our misery and tragedy like an adult see a child dropping his ice-cream cone. Maybe our misery and tragedy doesn’t matter in the long run and we simply haven’t discovered what is really important.
Yet at this moment, that child’s happiness was important. His joy and my smile very real to me. Then an Ally McBeal like moment flashed in my head. The little 5 year old and I were wearing camouflage combat outfit. We were in a war zone and I was pinned down in a trench with my leg injured. The little child, with his unbelievable tiny hands, tried to drag me out of the trench and into safety. I yelled, “save yourself, it is too late for me! Live your full and happy life!” Then a 10 ton paperwork bomb struck me and I woke up from my fantasy. I couldn’t help but smile once again at my bizarre fantasy.
The child couldn’t save me. The child probably didn't even know he almost saved a man with suit carrying brief case today. But my co-worker definitely noticed me as I walk in the office whistling.