September 11th, 2015

Burton's Alice

Being Mindful

On my birthday Tuesday, in the mailbox I found a pink cushioned envelope, which I could tell before I opened it was the perfect size to contain a book or two. Inside, I found two: "Peace Is Every Step" by Thich Nhat Hahn and "Soap" by Francis Ponge. Opening the card, I recognized the back-slanted, uneven handwriting immediately: my brother. He explained that the well-worn books were not just used but had been favorites of his for years, moving with him through many life changes. But now, he said, he felt it was time to pass them on to me, caught up in my busy days of parenting a young child and working from home (never as productively, it seems, as I should).

He is right: I needed these books. I have begun with "Peace is Every Step," and even just a few pages into it, I can tell it is just what my soul cries out to hear. Those who are mothers will not be shocked to hear that I do most of my reading these days in the bathroom, the one (usually) quiet place in my home. The book is divided into manageable nougats, perfect to read a few minutes at a time.

The simple lesson I have gained so far is to live mindfully, which means to be alive in the moment: to pay attention to what is going on around you. I practiced this while walking to the bus stop to pick KFP up after kindergarten today. The slight breeze was delicious after yesterday's rain. A fat ginger cat lounged leisurely in a patch of sun. Birds twittered, and I smiled.

It reminded me of a habit that KFP and I have. We buy a candy bar every time we go to the natural food store: dark chocolate and mint. After we pay for our items, we sit on a bench outside. I hand him a square and snap off a square for myself. We eat our chocolate, nibble by nibble, enjoying the sun on our arms, the hum of traffic from the highway, and each other's company.

That chocolate is always the most delicious thing I eat all week long.

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