Last week I went on a field trip to the local botanical gardens with my son Alex and his class. In the rain.
I didn’t tell him I had volunteered to be a chaperone until the night before the field trip, just in case something came up at work and I couldn’t make it. I’m sneaky like that.
He was so excited when I told him. He lit up like it was Christmas morning. I was not nearly as excited when I woke up the next day and it was pouring down rain.
“Surely we’re not still doing this thing and I can go to work and answer my emails,” I thought.
No. Such. Luck.
A note from the teacher indicated that we were, in fact, still going to the gardens, in the rain, as planned. From 8:30 am to 1:30 pm.
Heaven help me.
I’m pretty sure this sign of devotion deserved two punches on the good mom card.
This is ridiculous. Why in the hell? I should have passed. Why couldn’t it be sunny and 80 degrees like yesterday? I’m so damn cold. Where are all the dads at? I look like a drowned rat.
You know. What every mother-of-the-year says on a field trip with her youngest child.
I don’t know what other people say, but I was saying some pretty bad things.
Until I stopped.
One hour in, I had a moment of Zen and decided to stop arguing with reality.
One of my favorite yoga teachers says that the definition of human suffering is resisting “what is.”
Suffering and stress come from being in a particular situation and wishing you were in a different one.
I found myself walking around the botanical gardens in the rain with my son wishing that I could fast forward the next four hours of my life so I could be sitting at my desk answering work emails.
That’s no way to live.
When we live for the future, when we can’t wait for the next thing to get here, we treat the present moment like a stepping stone and all the joy is lost.
The present moment is our only portal to inner peace, yet so often we wish it away.
Once I had my moment of Zen, I decided to live in the present moment. I decided to actually live my old mantra of “right here, right now.”
And it worked.
The universe doesn’t work that way.
I was on a field trip in the rain and I might as well make the most of it.
After my epiphany, I paused at every sign and learned about condensation, transformation and evaporation. I found it tragic how much of this information was news to me, but that’s a blog post for another day.
I became so engrossed in learning about the DNA of pine trees that a mother of one of the kids tapped me on the shoulder and said, “You do know it’s raining, right?”
Shit. I hadn’t noticed.
Wishing away what we have in front of us is no way to live.
Here’s what I learned from my field trip to the rain forest: If you’re in a crappy job, either walk away or be happy with it. If you’re in a crappy marriage, either get out of it or stay in it and work on it, but don’t wish you were in a different one. And if you’re on a field trip with 18 six-year-olds and it’s raining, either be there and be happy, or say something came up at work and run away as fast as you can.
But don’t live your life in the in-between.
Don’t live in one situation and wish you were in another. Embrace what’s in front of you or change it.
After all, you can only truly live your life when you’re not arguing with it.