Friday, January 11, 2013
Last weekend we went to a park nearby called The Wilderness Park. It's one of the girls' favorite parks, even though there isn't much to it. I took this picture at that park years ago - I still love it:
The Wilderness Park is basically a little forest inside the city - except that well, usually there are more people than wildnerness. Whenever I go, I am always a little disappointed because there are (gasp!) people there. I want it to be empty - and that is rarely the case.
It occured to me that I am focusing on the Wilderness part of the name. If I focused on the Park part of it, I could manage my expectations. At a park (and one in the city, no less), you expect people to be there.
I heard once that the key to being happy in life is low expectations. My friend Ann thinks this is cynical. But maybe there is some truth to it. Once I managed my expectations of the park, and accepted that it's not Yosemite...I had a much better time! It's just a little park, I think I was expecting too much from it. Haha.
Paprika is back at school after Winter Break, and of course, everyone is talking about where they went. Ski trips. Cabo. Paris. Wherever. We stayed home! Well, not always at home...but we didn't travel anywhere unless you count our little day in Montecito.
But even without going anywhere, I feel happy. Complete. The thing that doesn't change wherever I am is me.
I can be here or there.
On a mountain or looking over a mountain of laundry.
The choice to be happy resides inside of me.
It's pretty powerful once you grab hold of that, although I can assure you some days I still wish for that mountaintop over the mountain of laundry. ;-)
I think sometimes in the past, I have built up that I need to do THIS or THAT amazing thing or go somewhere exotic to find happiness.
But really, I do know that I can be just as miserable there as I can be here.
And even when I do get to go on that exciting trip, that's no guarantee I'll be happy. If I've let expectations run wild with that place needing to be perfect (especially after I've built it up in my head) - I'm almost sure to fall flat on my face.
Especially since I tell myself this may be the ONE time I get to EVER do that. When I focus on scarcity, it's never a good thing. :-)
So, back to this day at the Wilderness Park. When we arrived, Baby Violet had just fallen asleep in the van. We didn't want to wake her, and the usual thing is for me to stay in the van with her. I pretty much always wait in the van with her while Mr. M takes the big girls to the park. When Violet wakes up, I catch up with them.
But on this day, Mr. M said he'd stay in the car (and catch up on email on his phone and possibly nap) while I took the girls into the park. It was such a gift.
For the two hours that Violet napped, I had this glorious afternoon with Paprika and Ginger.
We crossed the stream (over and over) on a log:
We fed the koi in the pond:
I helped them climb trees and learned that Ginger really has no fear! :-)
The girls pretended the tree stumps were dinosaurs, and that we found a nest of baby dinosaur eggs nearby that needed rescuing.
It was - in a word - magical.
We didn't need to go to Yosemite. Everything was beautiful, just as it was. Right here. It was enough. All the girls cared about was me being present with them. They didn't notice the other people at the park, and after awhile, neither did I.
It's taken me a long time not to wish my life away, by waiting for conditions to be perfect, or thinking things would be okay only if this or that happened.
The truth is that I still have down days. I still have days where I am incredibly sad for what has been lost. But being sad doesn't change anything. It won't make Vivian and Annemarie live again.
I am quite determined to live every moment of my life completely - and that starts right where I am. Not in a magical, imaginary future place. The only moment I have is now, and that's what makes it perfect.
Posted by Erika at 12:42 AM