Friday, July 2, 2010

Yellow Candles and the Art of Being Present

Today, I lived my life as a bystander.

I missed my opportunity to be present and attentive to the world spinning and humming around me.

I was disjointed and disappointed, and I let that get the best of me.

I hate that.

And then, a kid... a kid who has bitterly opposed any and all authority for the past 5 days, all snarls and eyerolls and teenage annoyance... snapped me back to reality.

Want to know how he did it?

He cried. This too tough 15 year-old wise ass, sobbed throughout closing campfire. He wept for almost 20 minutes, at first quietly and then not-so-quietly, until his counselors pulled him away to check on him. Then he revealed that he was sad because camp was ending. Here's a kid whose smart-mouth and shit-eating grin and eff-the-world attitude had steeled him against almost any kind of real emotion for God only knows how long. And he was so present in that moment, so sad and scared and unsure, that he forgot to be ashamed of his tears. It was stunning.

After campfire, when he came to grab his Foster Kid Cocktail of Meds, he asked me if he could keep the candle he'd made for our closing ceremony. He told me he wanted to bring it back next year. All I could say was, "Sure. Of course." It was such a sad little candle, no bigger than something you'd find on a birthday cake, but he held onto it so tightly that it made my heart ache.

I had a different post all planned. I'd been writing it in my head all day. It was going to drip with smart-mouth and eff-the-world attitude. It was depressing and angry and spiteful. But the whole time I was typing tonight, all I could see was that crappy little yellow candle in his hand and his eyes, red from crying, and I couldn't leave it alone. I arranged and re-arranged and changed it up a hundred different ways, but to no avail. The whole thing felt disjointed and disappointing, and I've had enough of that today.

I hope that kid never loses that candle. I hope he does get to bring it back next year. I hope that when he gets back to his home, he takes a piece of all of us with him. And I hope that I can remember tomorrow, what it's like to be present... fully present... for the world spinning and humming all around me.

No comments:

Post a Comment