Guest Post – Finding Wisdom From a Picture Book

Today I am pleased to share a guest post from KC at Little Homestead in the Desert.  We have arranged to feature each other in our own spaces this month.  Last week, her blog featured a thoughtfully crafted interview with yours truly.  She is a wonderful and inspiring blogger and mama.  I do hope you find your way to her blog and say hello!

I sat on the floor, cross-legged, with my toddler on one knee and my infant in the arm across, and I tried to read them a book. Because it is much more interesting for a toddler to turn the pages back and forth than to read word for word, not much actual reading was being done; so, having given up on reading properly, my mind wandered to all the things I wanted to do: laundry, writing a new blog post, knitting, baking bread, sewing that apron I promised a friend. That lead me to thinking of all the other things I wanted to do or have happen in my life rather then sit here, not quite reading the same picture book for the hundredth time.

When my daughter turned the page once again I found myself reading out loud, “Well if you can’t have what you want, you could try to want what you have.” Suddenly the metaphorical light bulb turned on over my head: what was I thinking, wanting to do all these other things and be somewhere else when the two little people who matter most to me were right here? Peacefully reading a book together with happy, healthy children; isn’t this the kind of moment I wanted to have for years?

When you forget to live in the present you can’t possibly move on to the future. If I’m not happy with things as they are now how could I possibly be happy in the future when we are in the position to buy a house, or raise chickens, or get a dog? I’d be doing the same thing, wanting something else, just out of reach.

I looked at my daughters and thought, “They are so present in this moment, all they want is to hang out with me.” They are truly happy in this moment because they don’t think about all these wants. They don’t want to have chickens, or have sweaters knitted for them, or want to live in the mountains; they are still too young to pine for the zoo, or want that new toy. They want their mama, food, and a safe place to explore. So I decided it is time to start wanting what I already have… and then of course I was pulled into the present moment by breast milk vomit running down one arm and a toddler saying “eww mama, snot.” on the other.

After I cleaned everyone up we turned to the end of the book and it said very poignantly, “And I looked, and my mom looked, and my goldfish looked utterly totally blissfully happy.” How did they get there? It included spending countless hours training a goldfish to catch a stick, when even the child knew it was probably a fool’s errand, but it did not matter, because it was his dream. And there it was, wisdom for the ages in a children’s picture book.

It’s easy to see the problems in your life, and it’s natural to want to improve those wrongs; but recognizing what’s already good about this moment of your day, this month, this part of your life will lead you to happiness now and the fortitude to continually build a present when the things you want are already here, instead of waiting for a better future that may never come.

In case your curious, the book is called Dogfish by Gillian Shields. It’s one of our favorites and has been so well read that it’s literally held together by tape. Thank you Erin for letting me be here today. It’s an honor to have posted in this space.

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  1. Posted March 6, 2012 at 12:36 pm by Ana | Permalink

    What a beautiful moment and realization.

  2. Posted March 6, 2012 at 2:08 pm by Meryl | Permalink

    Lovely, true, and a bit funny as well. (I, too, have spent many hours of late “not quite reading” the same book over and over again.)

  3. Posted March 6, 2012 at 2:17 pm by Karen | Permalink

    It should be easier to always remember something so simple as this.
    I am convinced that the universe is not going to allow me to fulfill my living in the country dream until I truly learn to be happy with all that I have.
    Thanks for this reminder.

  4. Posted March 6, 2012 at 3:37 pm by KC | Permalink

    Thanks for having me! It’s such an honor to be in this space!

  5. Posted March 6, 2012 at 4:15 pm by Misty Pratt | Permalink

    It’s good to know that toddlers just want to flip pages back and forth and “read” by themselves. I keep thinking something is wrong with my 2.5 year old, because she never wants to sit and let me read the book to her! Silly mommy :)

  6. Posted March 6, 2012 at 5:52 pm by Teresa C | Permalink

    It would be só much meaningful if we could live in the present…. But our hopes and dreams lie ahead. So I think we should be thankful when we find ourselves fully present in the moment. Your post is a reminder of that!

  7. Posted March 8, 2012 at 5:55 am by Earthenwitch | Permalink

    Really enjoyed reading this post, and needed it rather a lot today, so thank you. :o)

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