Long before mindfulness was popularized by John Kabat-Zinn, Herbert Benson & Thich Nhat Hanh and a slew of other philosophers, we had John Steinbeck. In his seminal book Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck stated; “the best laid plans of mice and men to go awry”. Maybe John Lennon said it in a more approachable way for our present culture; “life is what happens when we are busy making other plans”. As we enter this beautiful holiday season, I am trying to be mindful enough to treasure the moments in between the plans.
I recently hosted international visitors for ten days. As they rarely get to visit the New York area, we have been experiencing many activities and events that I would not normally have time for. After a particularly long, fun day, we had just finished a late supper at home. As we sat down for a cup of tea after the kitchen was clean, one of my friends looked outside and noticed that my dog, Satch was rubbing his face on the back porch floor boards. As we puzzled about what he could be trying to accomplish, I opened the door and let him in. The reason hit my nostrils like a ton of bricks. Satch had been skunked.
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So many thoughts and emotions flooded me. I know some of you have been there. I did not want to end my Sunday night giving my really smelly dog a bath at 11:30pm when I was tired. But as some of us know, when your dog gets sprayed by a skunk, there really is no choice. Life is happening. My husband and I grabbed the tomato soup, took him upstairs, put him in the tub, and started scrubbing. We ended up having some unexpected laughs as we turned our white doggie red. For additional tips on removing skunk odor, click here.
And this is the gift we were given in those moments. We are learning to treasure each moment while we are living it.
This year, some of us have experienced great joy, shocking news or tough times. Some of us have experienced tragedy and loss. There have been professional and personal challenges. Some are within our control to change and others are outside our locus of control. For some of us this was just another year.
A dear friend of mine passed away in August. His daughter read the poem The Dash, by Linda Ellis, to commemorate her father’s life. It is sweet and I encourage you to read it too. Here is the link to The Dash. It is another take on savoring each moment and enjoying life and those around you.
Just as we do with our students, our children and our animals, I was able to see my world through the eyes of my visitors and found it interesting and new. May the coming holidays be ones of great joy for you and yours, and may you find something fascinating in the everyday. May you feel camaraderie and take comfort and support from those around you. May your challenges bring unexpected opportunities, and as your best laid plans go awry, may you find that your life is joyous, unexpected and new.