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Playful Self-Discipline: Living Right Now

It’s Thursday and time to check in on my Playful Self-Discipline project! This month I’m writing about Uncertainty, and so far I’ve tackled how much I can control in my life and how happiness affects my reactions to the unexpected monkey wrench in my plans. Today I’m thinking about how uncertainty loops back and joins up with mindfulness to help me live more fully in the present moment.

We went swimming yesterday. We’ve been going swimming every Wednesday as part of my effort to create a routine that works for us, and these days it’s been the case that more exercise means happier people. I’d registered Bea for a swimming class on Wednesday mornings but last week we found out that her registration was lost somehow and she didn’t have a place in the class. I decided that we’d just go swimming together on Wednesday mornings anyway.

So there we were in the swimming pool. Bea was trying out her brand new pink goggles for the first time. She pulled the rubbery pink straps over her head and I helped her tighten them up. She beamed at me from behind her shiny pink goggles.

She really wanted to try the goggles out, to put her face in the water and peek at everyone’s funny legs and feet under the surface of the water. But she wasn’t sure they would keep the water out of her eyes, and she really didn’t want water up her nose. I wasn’t sure if she was going to last with this goggle idea, but I’d put down $14.95 as a bet that she’d really love them. She bounced up and down in the water a little bit, tentatively put her face in and came up spluttering. Water up the nose.

When she looked at me, her eyes all earnest and wide behind those pink lenses, I could see just how little she really was. Her baby teeth gleamed and her round cheeks stuck out under the pink straps. We looked over at the bigger girls in the swimming class beside us and their bodies, only a year older than Bea’s, were lean and wiry. Bea usually seems very mature to me, but today I could see how she was still really so little and yet about to grow bigger very soon. It seemed to me that she wanted so much to be big like those other girls. I could see her challenge the littleness in herself to try something new, something scary. She dunked her head right under, and then she was hooked. “I did it, mom! I looked under the water!”

After that, there was no stopping her. She dunked and blew bubbles and picked up sinky rings and basically taught herself how to dog paddle. I marveled at how totally engaged she was in this new challenge, and I felt totally engaged with her. Life’s uncertainties didn’t matter in that moment. I wasn’t worrying about the future or stressing over the fact that Bea wasn’t registered in a class. I was fully present with this girl in all her littleness and her bigness as she hit this milestone. I don’t know how things will go in the future. I do know that worrying about not knowing will pull me away from actually noticing and being awake to each moment as it passes.

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  • Cynthia April 21, 2011, 1:59 pm

    Aww, this was really sweet to read. :) I can relate to what you said about seeing her as bigger than she really is. I know I do that with my older boy too often and once in a while I’ll realize that he’s really still so little and young.