What is the secret to life?

  • by
When I went to my first wedding, I kept noticing the table centerpieces, creatively named after places where the bride and groom had special memories. I thought, “When I get married, I already know the perfect theme!”
I wanted my wedding to be based on James Taylor’s songwriting, “The secret to life is enjoying the passage of time.” As someone in love with history and writing, I envisioned tables themed after different historic events marking the passage of time.
I was 12. When I did eventually get married, the theme was “beach modern,” and James Taylor’s only place was with the band.
But, even though I thought better than to theme my wedding after a line from a song titled “Secret O’ Life,” I actually hope my actual life is based off that line. I hope I can simply savor the passing day, not worrying about how quickly or slowly things are moving along, free from nostalgia or anticipation, immersed in the moment.
According to Mr. Taylor, any fool can do it. And, really, a yogi should be quite proficient at enjoying time’s passing. Well, pregnancy was not an enjoyable passage for me. I had an eyes on the prize attitude for most of those 9 months. No matter how much people told me to enjoy the anticipation, I couldn’t muster up the presence to be with the process.
Once she arrived home, the four most tired days of my life began. The kid just didn’t sleep, day or night, for more than 10 minutes at a time. Reid and I slept in shifts, willing our eyes open so we could keep her safe. When he just couldn’t stay awake any longer, he’d tap me and apologetically say, “Are you ready?” During my shifts, I frantically Googled: “When will my baby sleep?” “How long until my baby sleeps?” “How much should my newborn sleep?” “How do I get my newborn to sleep?”
Our parents visited with wide eyes and warm hearts. I threw them all out of our house in wild desperation, trying to establish some type of sleep routine.
All I wanted was to get through those first two weeks. My body was still beat up from labor, I couldn’t easily get in and out of bed, and I was so hormonal I broke down to tears when Reid brought me a quiche for breakfast. I cried again a few days later when it was time to throw the remaining quiche away. I missed that quiche.
Like the quiche, the sleepless nights expired. At about the fifth night, she slept. We actually had to wake her up to feed her. The time passed. I didn’t enjoy it nearly enough.
I just packed up my daughter’s newborn clothing, saving the sweet onesies she never even fit into, and putting the box marked “Holly’s baby clothes” into the attic. With Reid heading back to work, I cried remembering the sweet moments of him tapping me awake. I cried remembering the times during my first trimester when he brought me graham crackers and Gatorade in attempts to find something I could keep down. I cried remembering the heart burn I’d wished away, the lazy days awaiting her birth, the nurses in the hospital, and the chicken dinner my mom cooked for us.
I’m crying again now. How did I fail to enjoy this time sufficiently? Why was I so worried about getting through the day?
At the end of it all, my practice should exist to help me enjoy the passage of time. Of course it is unrealistic to enjoy every moment. But, if we can at least fully experience every moment, then the passage of time becomes bittersweet rather than simply bitter.
As I look to this year ahead, to the commitments before me, and to my return to work, my only goal is to enjoy it while it’s happening. That’s why we’re all here. No matter how “good” we think we’ve gotten at it, it’s a daily practice. As circumstances continually change, we recommit to being with them. We can never perfect presence.
We hope you’ll join us in committing to your practice, your community, your body, and the passage of time in your life.
PPS: Photo taken by our lovely team member, Meagan. Find her at meagankh.com