My parents rented a cabin last week and took our kids with them. Situated near the Haliburton Highlands, a gorgeous stretch of lush forests and sapphire lakes, the cabin placed them at a jumping off point for a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities. Hiking, swimming, canoeing, picnicking — the kids had a great and memorable time.
My wife and I visited on Friday to spend the weekend there, and we learned that one of our youngest’s favourite activities all week long had been to go down to the river running beside the cabin and throw leaves in the rapids. These are the sort of simple pleasures never fully appreciated by anyone much older than about four. There were untold delights in the sweep of leaves through the current, moving slow at first, then rushing through the tiny waterfalls and gliding out into the wide river, destination unknown.
On Saturday, we drove to Bonnechere Caves, a series of subterranean paths irresistible to anyone with a sense of adventure – young or old. Right before we headed out, I was down at the river with Zachary and my father, me snapping photographs and my father keeping Zachary supplied with leaves. When we told Zachary it was time to go, he protested, and he continued to do so even when we explained that we would be exploring caves and tried to tempt him with all the wonders that activity would surely hold. It would certainly be much better than throwing leaves in the water.
No dice: the kid was immovable.
We ended up getting him into the car, and had a great day at the caves. Later, it occurred to me that I was a bit envious of Zachary. I spend about a third of my life sleeping, and probably spend about 98% of the remaining two thirds focused not on what I am doing in the moment, but instead preoccupied with what I hope to be doing later (whether 10 minutes or 10 years later), or dreading some unpleasant thing I know I’ll have to do later. It is a rare occasion indeed when I am able to appreciate “the now.”
Today, I am thankful for now. This very moment. The sun is shining down in patches on my freckled hands through an original wrought iron window in our 120 year old home. Zachary is playing with a water table in a corner of our foyer, getting most of the water on himself and on the floor, but enjoying himself immensely. Gregory is watching a show on his computer, earbuds in his ears. Sandra has disappeared to the basement. The room is quiet except for the sound of Zachary pouring water, the hum of Gregory’s computer, and the click of my keyboard.
This moment — this specific moment — is pure and discrete. It’s a very rare gift — no one in the world can experience it from my perspective; it has never happened before, and it will never happen again. It’s the only moment like it in the whole universe.