Just after I had my second child, a yogi friend of mine who also has children said, “The days are long but the years are short.” At the time this felt true and resonated with the reality of my life: nursing, naps, diaper changes, taking two hours to leave the house for a 45 minute outing. Long days indeed. And then suddenly the second baby was a year old, then two… how did it happen, and did it happen, horribly, without my noticing?
Then the third child arrived in all her contented beauty. Now that aphorism no longer seems right. The days feel ever so short, the months fly, and the years absolutely spin at speeds dizzying to the mind. Dharma teachers will tell you that time is an illusion, that reality itself is an illusion, and only the present moment is “true,” but even that, in some philosophical contexts, is up for debate. As I grow older, and my children become each day more and more their own autonomous small beings, I sense the truth of this teaching.
Last night we had bath time. During bath time the children become so loud my husband wears earplugs and usually becomes panicked from the wild noise issuing from such small mouths. However, there was something about last night, as chaotic as it was, that reminded me of the Buddha’s teachings on time.
Soon the children will be “too old” to take baths together – something they will certainly decide, against my sad resistance.
At the moment they are joyously free, all three of them, of any real consciousness of how their bodies appear to others, or that there’s anything remotely interesting in differing genders or that there is fat or thin or tall or short or any of the other labels about which their elders pathologically obsess.
For them, simplicity reigns, and it is a kingdom I wish we all could enter. In this land, so different from our own, the body is just a vehicle for experience, and children only notice it if there is some discomfort to be dispensed with or perhaps indulgently whined about.
As a dancer and yoga practitioner, this seems the most ideal dance, and the best practice: efficiency, joy, trust in the physical, and a lack of interest in anything but what is one’s present occupation.
Soon enough, the worries and self-consciousness will creep in, unwelcome guests to all. Loud, echoing baths will turn to quiet showers and privacy. But for now, as the days shorten and the years grow quick wings, it is a dharma blessing to celebrate the raucous Now that is life through the mind of the child.