A small man. Just over 5 feet tall, 120 pounds with suitcase in hand. Quiet. Better said, nearly silent. I honestly never heard him speak.
Grandpa never sat down to share stories or catch up on our lives. He was always outside. Shuffling his feet. Barely shifting forward, but always moving. He didn’t whistle, but created a soft tone as he gently pushed his breath across pursed lips. I always wondered what he was thinking about…
In 5th grade, our teacher asked what we wanted to be when we grew up. I replied, “a grandpa”. I wanted what Grandpa Erwin never shared… I wanted to sit with children on my lap, tell stories and listen for wonderment. That’s what real grandpas do, I thought.
A recent camping trip changed my outlook a bit…
It was dusk. What remained of the setting sun blasted through small openings in the trees. Shadows disappeared and darkness slowly crept in. I held baby James in front of me, one arm under his bum, the other tucked under an arm and across his chest. We walked.
Then we slowed down.
I began to shoosh, calming James. He cranked his neck to see the trees… causing me to look up too. And I began to shuffle.
Placing one foot just slightly in front of the other. I almost lost my balance… like on a bicycle when you quit pedaling and lose all momentum. At this very, very slow stroll… my mind was no longer anxious. In addition to shapes and colors, I began to see slight movements in the breeze and the interaction of leaves in the trees… my heart slowed down… and the two of us fell into the moment.
I always thought mindfulness meant sitting still in complete silence, letting thoughts pass freely by. I was wrong.
Mindfulness is being fully present… being refreshed by color, sound, shape, movement… being “in” your surroundings.
When I’m walking somewhere, I’m thinking about the destination. When standing still, I’m distracted with a sense of “need to move” and I only see things in one dimension. When shuffling… I’m right here.
Maybe I should have just grabbed Grandpa’s hand and strolled with him. Maybe that was his way of simply being mindful and that’s what he really wanted to share! Either way, I still want to be a grandpa… but a different one.
My shuffle with James was one of the most incredible moments of my life. I absorbed everything around me… and, I finally met my Grandpa for who he was.
As you head into the weekend, find a nice park full of fall colors… grab someone’s hand… and silently shuffle… (and if you want to shoosh, that’s o.k.).
Keep shuffling… keep Believing in Better!
[P.S. join me and my friends on our journey at believeinbetternow.com]