The Rhythm of Your Mother’s Breath

There’s so much that we don’t really have control over. What are we supposed to do with all of that stuff?

The Rhythm of Your Mother’s Breath

Dear Gus,

Last night, a thunderstorm blew through. It was so bad that sirens started going off to warn us about high and dangerous winds. Gusts blew up to 70 miles per hour, and we could hear the wind whipping and howling around the house.

You stayed in bed. Asleep.

After things died down a bit, Mom and I went back to bed. But I couldn’t fall asleep. My mind was busy thinking about all sorts of grown-up stuff: taxes, medical bills, student loans. Stuff that you’ll have to deal with one day, but not for a long time because you’re still (at least for a few more days) seven years old.

All of the worrying got me thinking about the nature of time. Mom and I often talk about how your childhood seems like it’s gone by in the flap of a hummingbird’s wings. For you, it probably feels different. I remember when I was your age, I felt like I was constantly waiting for something good to happen, looking forward to the next big thing.

Soon I would be old enough to play in this baseball league; then I’d be old enough to see those kinds of movies; finally I’d be old enough to drive a car, graduate high school, go to college and get on with really living my life.

All of those things seemed really far away. This makes sense too. You’re going to be eight next week. You’ve got to live your entire life all over again, another eight years, before you turn 16 and can get a driver’s license. That must seem like a really long time to you.

Time is funny like that. A year used to seem like such a long time, but now it seems shorter and shorter.

So, as I lay there in bed, in the darkness at five in the morning, and I’m thinking about all of that stuff I mentioned—taxes, medical bills, student loans—I realized that worrying about the future doesn’t really do much for me. It just makes me anxious. It makes me think about all of the things that could happen, things that I don’t really have any control over.

There’s so much that we don’t really have control over. What are we supposed to do with all of that stuff?

I rolled over on to my side and faced your mom. Her hair was flowing off her pillow and I could hear her breathing deeply. For a moment, her breath seemed to move right in time with the pitter-patter of the rain and the occasional howling of the wind. I listened to all of that going on around me and I realized that the world is kind of like a symphony and every single one of us is a member of the orchestra. We play our part and we work together to make a beautiful sound. Sometimes the orchestra is loud and scary. Sometimes it’s soft and soothing.

What does this have to do with time?
We can worry about the future.
We can fixate on the past.
But we can only live in the present.

The storm may be raging all around us, but you’ve really got to pay attention and be here now if you’re going to hear the melody of the rain, the harmony of the wind, and the rhythm of your mother’s breath.

May we always find ourselves in the present,