My husband has this tendency to sit in his car for anywhere up to 10 minutes when he comes home.
Imagine the kids and I, waiting by the door, eagerly anticipating the Hubs walking in, and then . . . he just doesn’t come. We know he’s there. He’s just sitting in his car.
It turns out, if something good is on the radio when he comes home, he sits in the car to finish listening to it.
But doesn’t he know how excited we are to see him? Doesn’t he care that we’ve been waiting for hours for him to come home?
Over the years, I’ve gotten used to this idiosyncracy of his. Now, when we notice him sitting in the car after we know he’s home, the kids still ask me, “What is he doing?” I just respond, “he’s listening to the radio.” I’ve gotten over my need to see him immediately, realizing that he has a need for some space. Furthermore, he’s paying attention to his surroundings, enjoying the moment, and I’ve finally realized that I don’t want to rob that from him.
Last night while coming home from catechism, the kids recognized the first movement of Beethoven’s 9th symphony coming from the radio. Both couldn’t quite place it, but they knew they recognized it and they liked it.
That first movement still hadn’t finished by the time we got home, and both kids were adamant that they preferred to sit in the car and listen to the rest of it. By this time, I had explained that it was Beethoven’s 9th (with Ode to Joy at the end).
So we sat.
The sun went down and it got dark, and we worked our way into the second movement. There were no sounds apart from the music on the radio. As the darkness intensified, the music became a full immersion experience, as the only sense we were experiencing was the music in our ears.
However, the second movement is a bit less gripping than the first and third movements. Furthermore, this entire piece is long. After sitting for a good fifteen minutes, The Eleven-Year-Old Girl, my most disciplined and diligent child, called it quits. The Nine-Year-Old Boy–the spazzy one–hung in there a bit longer. Finally, he decided there was hot chocolate to be had inside the house.
After enjoying hot chocolate and cookies, I returned to the car, with the intention of retrieving my book. At the same time, I wondered, “Would the third movement still be playing?” Easing into the front seat, I turned on the radio, and–sure enough–the third movement was just beginnng.
Once again, I sat.
Immersed in the darkness, absorbed in this very familiar piece (having spent months three years ago trying to learn the alto part), all other senses were drived of stimulation. The kids were fine, having cookies and hot chocolate with my husband. While there certainly were other things I could be doing, there was no other place I wanted to be, except sitting in my car, with the battery running, listening to Beethoven and a very good orchestra and choir.
How many times to we simply throw everything off, literally turning everything else off, just to pay attention to what is happening in the present.
Sure, I could have pushed it aside, and put in a CD after the kids were in bed.
But would I have, really?
How many other times do I pass up opportunites to pay attention to the moment, to immerse myself in my present surroundings, without a care in a world about what is going on with others or those other things I “should” be doing?
How can I make myself more aware?
How can I give distractions less of a priority in my life?
I’ve got not real answers.
But I’d like to make that a priority, paying attention to the present moment.
Hanging on to that intention seems like a good place to start.
(If you’ve got answers for concrete ways to life more in awareness of your surroundings, feel free to fill me in, in the comments section!)
Bird photo by Benjamin Balazs on Unsplash.
Standing in the Rain photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash.