Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Celebrate Unbirthdays

Unbirthday? I'm sorry, but I don't quite understand.
- Alice in Wonderland

One of the many things I love about my daughter at this age is her complete acceptance of who she is including her limitations. If I ask her to: get herself dressed, read a book, grab something that is on the top shelf or explain the meaning of a new word, she simply shrugs and says I am three, I can’t or I don’t know things yet.  

But in the past few months, she has started saying when she is four, she can do it. She points to the scariest roller coasters, when I am four I will ride that. She looks at her 9-year old cousin, when I am four I will be bigger than him. Yesterday, as her big brother tried out for the Alice in Wonderland play at school, my daughter celebrated her fourth birthday with her little girlfriends. The long anticipated future was hardly the reality of the present she had in mind. The first reconciliation of the two came when we talked about her birthday present, a Disney cruise. She worried she could not go now because she is too big. 

Time is a tricky concept for me to grasp too. I will enjoy life more when: I am thinner, my closets are clean, my children are less needy, I have a handle on the direction of my career. Of course, when I reach those milestones, I don't  feel any differently. In Eckhart Tolle’s book, A New Earth, Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, he talks about the most important relationship in your life. The relationship you have with the present moment. Tolle says if you regard the present as an obstacle or a means to an end or with resentment, that is your life. If you regard NOW as a problem, problems will be a part of all your relationships and endeavors. Solve one and you will be happy? Nope, another one pops up like a never ending wack-a-mole game. Treat the present like a friend and suddenly the world is friendly and full of new opportunities. 

The author names the ego as the culprit in this theft of NOW. It feeds off your past. It is fascinated with your future. Is that what I am seeing develop in my daughter at the tender age of four? Have I been sharing birthdays with my ego for that long? If so, that may explain why this habit of  chasing the white rabbit of time back and forth is so hard to break. I want to celebrate the "unbirthdays" of wonderland. I want to blow the candles out on the 364 other days of the year, one minute at a time. 

Tolle's book had one helpful take away for that goal: “The decision to make the present moment into a friend is the end of ego. The ego can never be in alignment with the present moment.” In other words, awareness in the functionality of your relationship is enough to change the relationship.

How is your relationship with this moment?


  1. Tracey, Your provocative topics really get me thinking. For readers out there who do not know, in my early life I was a professional singer to work my way through college. When I think, I think in musical terms. This topic got me thinking about a song by Alabama, I'm in a hurry to get things done."
    Isn't it ironic that when we are young all we can think about is growing up, getting bigger, able to do the "important" things we can't do as little folks. When we reach the stage in our lives where the time we have before us is far less than what we have behind us, we want to turn back the clock. Throughout our lives, staying in the moment is a challenge. It seems to be the human experience to either be ruminating about the past or projecting into the future. Oh, if we could only CHERISH the moment. If you would like to try a little experiment to test your "in the moment" juices, I would invite you to go to the store and buy a box of the original RITZ crackers. Grab one out of the package and woof it down like you (and I) normally do when we are hurriedly getting food down our throats so we can get to the next thing in our day. Now, STOP! Take hold of the second RITZ cracker. Feel it in your fingers. Feel the texture on your skin. Bring it to your nose. Breathe in the aroma. Gently put a corner of the cracker in your mouth. Taste and enjoy the buttery/salty sensation. Close your eyes and slowly eat the remainder of the cracker...Oh, how heavenly to "be in the moment."

    1. I will try that with a peanut butter cookie:) Listened to the song. Yes! Yes! I am not the only one caught up in a hurry.


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