I am finally getting around to reading and thinking about Chapter Two in James Hollis’ book, Living An Examined Life. I have been spending the past four days with grandson number five and his friend who have come to spend some time in Canada. The boys are keeping me busy, busier that I am used to being in a certain sense. They are both eleven years old, still children, but barely. There are flashes when the adults they might be peek out. My agenda while they are here are to try my best to make sure they don’t get bored and the by the time it’s bed time, they are basically worn out. Of course, that means “Papa” will be worn out as well.
This morning, they slept in. I guess that means that I have been doing my job well. I had a few moments to myself to check out the garden, and read chapter two [well, not all of it, but enough for this post] and to find a few skyclad moments.
“Every morning we rise to find two gremlins at the foot of the bed. The one named Fear says, “The world is too big for you, too much. You are not up to it. Find a way to slip-slide away again today.” And the one named Lethargy says, “Hey, chill out. You’ve had a hard day. Turn on the telly, surf the Internet, have some chocolate. Tomorrow’s another day.” Those perverse twins munch on our souls every day. No matter what we do today, they will turn up again tomorrow. Over time, they usurp more days of our lives than those to which we may lay fair claim. More energy is spent in any given day on managing fear through unreflective compliance, or avoidance, than any other value. While it is natural to expend energy managing our fears, the magnitude of this effort on a daily basis cannot be overemphasized.”
With me spending my energy on the boys, there has been no time for fear or lethargy to set in. I find myself realising that rather than letting the days slip away, I strive to make all my moments be about having presence in life. Early morning hours embracing the freedom of being nude in my yard, then the shift to the two boys waking and making sure they have a breakfast before having them re-engage with a project begun two days earlier – burning words and images onto wood that has been pieced together in a design of their choosing. I am the grown-up in this situation. I am responsible for their well-being and engaging them in as many dimensions as I can.
“The moment we say, “I am responsible, I am accountable, I have to deal with this,” is the day we grow up, at least until the next time, the next regression, the next evasion.”
But of course, there is a boy in me as well, a youth hidden behind this outer shell of a man who is well into his seventh decade. I defer to others decisions that I should be making, shifting my responsibility onto them. While the boys played in the water at the lake, I found a private space not too far away for letting the boy in me come out as well. I wanted to be as free as them. However, I didn’t want to go into the water as it was freezing cold. So, I made sure that I was hidden from their sight as I stole a few moments for myself before returning to take more “fun” pictures of the boys for their parents. It was time to be a responsible and accountable adult, at least in one sense of those words.
There will be more to come as I will return with more from Chapter Two – It’s Time To Grow Up.