A while back, we were having guests in our home and my daughter decided she wanted to contribute to the festivities by making a fruit pizza. I took her to the store to purchase the needed ingredients. I was in my typical state of wanting to hurry and get things taken care of so that I could get home over-prepare for my guests. I started to head toward the canned goods isle when my daughter asked where I was going. I told her we could buy the canned version of most of the fruits. I explained that they’re “just as good” as the fresh produce and this way she doesn’t have to “waste” time slicing. She looked at me and said, “Mom, that’s the best part”. That moment revealed several things to me that I have reflected on many times since that day. First, I learned something about my daughter. She enjoys the process of preparing meals. It never occurred to me that slicing and dicing could actually be enjoyable to someone. I have a habit of finding the most efficient way of getting things accomplished. I’m all about convenience especially when it comes to working in the kitchen. I also realized in that moment there have been many times in the past that I have imposed my impatience with preparation onto my daughter. I’m frequently trying to hurry her along so that we can get on to the next thing, rushing her through what brings her joy.
I am currently participating in an online course where we explore our inner life by creating a journal using various arts and crafts to express the lessons for each week. I use watercolors, markers, stickers, photographs, magazine cutouts…whatever feels appropriate in the moment. Having worked in small groups with this type of activity I have watched in wonder as others seem to be able to look at a blank page and quickly create an entry that reflects the lesson beautifully and creatively. What I realized about myself yesterday is that I piddle through the page, adding embellishments a little at a time, soaking in the thoughts and playing with the ideas running through my mind before committing to a page design. This can take me hours. My results aren’t any better or worse than those of the people who were able to sit down and begin and finish their page in one gathering session. But I have judged myself as being “un-creative” because of my “time-consuming” approach to these activities. Until yesterday. While engaging in this process by myself, I flashed back to the conversation with my daughter in the grocery store. I realized how happy I am that my daughter knows what she enjoys even if others (me) see it as a waste of time. For me, in the activity of journaling, the process is what I find most enjoyable. It’s the little things on my page that give it personal meaning. Thanks to the insightful comment from my daughter about what she enjoys, I am beginning to give myself permission to enjoy my journaling process without judgment. I enjoy piddling. It’s during the process that I am most alive to myself. I’m really with me.
When I take this scenario and zoom out to incorporate the rest of my life, I can begin to see how my habit of getting to the next thing robs me of the joy in the process. There will always be parts of the process of life that are less enjoyable to me. However, if I can begin to slow down and believe in the process of this present moment, I will be able to discover what really brings me joy in each of these moments. What this will require is for me to stop judging myself when my process doesn’t look like someone else’s. The little touches and embellishments on the moments of my daily life are what make them mine.
Life happens in the slicing and dicing and the piddling with ideas and embellishments.
“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart”. Luke 2:19