Remember when you were six years old, and your greatest wish was to go to the swimming pool on a hot day? If you could just play in that cool, clear water, your life would be infinitely better. Now, remember how happy you were when your mom told you she would take you?
There’s just one catch. First you had to get out the door. Well, that shouldn’t be so hard, you think. Naturally, you’re dressed in your bathing suit in five seconds flat, so you’re ready. You grab your floatie-wings on the way to the door, because what other water essentials are there?
“Honey, did you get your flip flops?” And you’re thinking, Aren’t those kinda pointless? I’m going kick them off as soon as I walk through the gate anyway.
“I’ve gotta find the sunscreen, sunglasses, the baby’s hat, stroller, oh! and my magazine. Just need to make one quick phone call…”
Your wonderful day just came to a halt. Because now you were thinking, Why does mom even need all that stuff? Magazines?! The stroller? Really? You can’t take those in the water!
Twenty minutes later, after your mom has loaded enough for a weekend trip, you’re finally in the car, and you allow yourself a sigh of relief. You’re finally going! You were so excited when you pulled into the parking lot, that you were out of your car-seat and at the door in less than two seconds, floati-wings on your arms. Your mom takes ten seconds longer, and you wonder how she can possibly not understand that time is of the essence here.
You burst out of the car, and are about to run down the sidewalk towards the pool, when your mom calls, “Wait a minute, honey! I need you to stay close while I change the baby.”
The baby? You mean you didn’t put her swimming suit on already!? Then she tells you to come and put on sunscreen. And you wonder why that matters at all, because aren’t you just getting ready to go and rinse it all off?
Five agonizing minutes later, the baby is in the stroller, dressed in a bathing suit that you wonder how she’s possibly going to need if she’s sitting in that cart all day, and you’re finally ready to make your way to the pool. At last. You can see the water sparkling in the sunlight when you round a bend in the sidewalk! There it is!
But when you’re halfway down the sidewalk, something even worse happens.
Your mom’s friend pulls up.
And your mom stops.
And turns around.
And begins walking BACK up the sidewalk.
And now you’re coming to the awful realization that the entire universe is against you, trying to thwart your plans.
Life isn’t fair.
So now you’re back at the top of the hill, in the parking lot. Perhaps the sunscreen is actually doing some good now, because the sun is getting higher in the sky. It must be almost noon! And you knew that that meant it was darn close to getting dark. If your mom didn’t hurry, the moon would come up! But she’s busy taking an eternity to greet her friend.
Now, what you don’t realize is that, in your mom’s opinion, you’re at the pool. You’ve pulled up, and so you’re there. She never did understand that you were NOT there. You were close, but you were never at the pool until you were in the pool. As in, submerged. Completely.
But they’re still chatting.
“You wouldn’t believe the trouble I had getting out of the house this morning,” your mom says. And you agree 100%, as you tap your foot on the concrete. “See, I couldn’t find the sunscreen, and the stroller had a broken wheel. So I had to pull out the tools and fix it, and—“
“Oh, I know just what you mean,” her friend says, rubbing sunscreen across her nose, “I had a salon appointment this morning to get my hair colored. You know, I stopped to get coffee, and it should’ve been fast, but they were running behind, and I was late already. Then I spilled my coffee while I was driving—“
And now you’re thinking – coffee? Coffee?! How is coffee relevant to swimming? Why should I care? Why should she care?! Go wash it off in the POOL!
When you’re finally at the pool (as in, in it), you see at last why your mom insisted on hauling along all that extra junk. She’s not getting in the pool! Dumfounded, you watch her sit in a beach chair with a magazine and her sunglasses and tan. But she’s not wearing the sunglasses; they’re sitting on her head. And you wonder what part of that is “going swimming?” (And also, why does she need sunscreen if she’s going to lie in the sun? How counterproductive is that?)
But it doesn’t matter, because now you can finally forget troubles like lost sunscreen and eternal greetings, and just play in the water. (And you did kick off your flip flops the second you got there. Duh.) Life is good.
Then, all too soon, your mom tells you it’s time to leave. But you notice that the sun is still up. It’s not dark. After all, a day at the pool is a day at the pool. A day. Today. ALL DAY. Right?
Remember when you were six years old, and you lived in the moment. Each moment, each day. Life wasn’t about deadlines and fine lines and eye liner. Life was about the joy of each breath.
And then you grew up. You probably laughed at this. But now you realize that life isn’t like that anymore. You’re busy and you realize you’ve lost part of what you had when you were six. Or you think you have. Where is the joy of each moment now?
I think I know. And I think you can still find it—if you look.