The other day I spent 15 minutes with Hadley just picking up rocks and putting them down. Occasionally she would pass one to me and I would pass one back to her but mostly we just…picked them up and put them back down. At her slow, toddler pace. And it felt like magic to just be.
What I’ve learned through teaching my students, through training Olive, and through parenting Hadley is that there is no greater gift than the gift of time. Creatures want the people they love to care about them enough that they’ll put down the distractions to really *be* with them. Kids want us to stop washing the dishes so we can play together. They want us to take the extra time at night to read them one more book. Our dogs want us to pick up the tug toy that hasn’t been touched in three days, and to extend the daily walk by just 5 minutes.
Since starting therapy for OCD, I’ve noticed just how much time I lose each day by compulsively repeating behaviors. And my intrusive thoughts will whisk me away from reality and into parallel universe hellscapes. Time with the people I love – and being present – is one of my core values but I find myself so far away from it some days when my anxiety is just too much. Through practice (and meds!), I’ve been able to be more present with Olive and Hadley lately, instead of ruminating on nonexistent catastrophic scenarios.
Those moments with Hadley – picking up rocks and putting them down – gave me such joy because I could see her brain working and her curiosity churning. And instead of rushing her to be different from what she was, we just were.
I’m so curious to know whether this resonates with you. Do you ever find your mind wandering far away from where you are? What have you learned from your time with your creatures?