By Ty Phillips
I watch the rain come down slowly, like wet gossamer sheets.
Rain drops kiss flower petals that bounce back up like cymbals on a drum set. Soft purple pulp, filled with new life and color—so fragile yet so strong.
Chubby little digits come down and pull it up from its earthen bed and hand it to me, “Look daddy, I got you somefin.” I am struck between the love and innocence of the gesture and the wish that she will learn sooner than later, just appreciate its beauty where it is.
Most of us are like this. We encounter a situation and we experience it with a sense of dread. We insert controls, notions, expectations, and hum and haw when it does not meet the picture of our pre-conceived ideas.
Engaging the moment just how it is, rarely crosses our mind. We find sitting with the flower to be uncertain, uncontrolled and usually uncomfortable.
Our relationships are not built around loving someone solely for who they are, but more for what they can give us and how we want them to be.
We bicker and rage when these expectations are not met. He or she was self-absorbed, shallow, trite or whatever the case may be, and we are certain we had no faults. We look back and wonder how we felt so comfortable around them at one point. We forgot the appreciation of just being near them.
We walk around carrying certainties in our heads that require force to protect; side-arms and sideways looks at every passerby. My physical and intellectual property must be protected at all costs—even at the cost of human life. The idea that a smile, a handshake, or a hug might go a lot further into changing this certainty never occurs…we are after all, certain.
I held my thoughts of certainty with fierce pride once. I walked around secure in my manhood with shirts that read, Trample the Weak and Hurdle the Dead. It did not occur to me that maybe exposing my insecurities might make me more relatable, more open to the experiences we all share.
Instead, I was unapproachable. I was a wall of fear and doubt that you could not pass and my enemies and defensed were all self created. I wondered why I was so frequently alone.
Now, I expose my faults, my mistakes, my struggles and fears, and I see the sideways looks and the gossiping among family. Yet I see more of those who reached out and thanked me. I hear more words loaded with emotional connection, hands reached out and emails sent in friendship.
I smile more now and laugh with an open heart and a belly that rolls with me as we chuckle.
Someone recently told me, “You are so open and compassionate with others and yet so hard on yourself.” I thought about that. Maybe what seems harsh is open honesty to my quirks? Maybe it is not. Maybe it is still the process of settling into the moment and finding a sense of calm in simple uncertainty. Maybe I am still trying to control with bashful humor? It was, if anything, something worth thinking about.
I look back down at the flower in my hand and the little head that snuggles into my arm. Maybe my wishing she wouldn’t have pulled the flower from the ground is still me trying to control the situation. Maybe being open is simply accepting her gift and her snuggle and being here, without my own thoughts on the matter. Just her and I, just the slow gossamer drizzle, the faint humidity, and the purple flower in my hand.
And just like that, we breathe together. Like a planned out action from a rehersal. A big in breath and a slow and happy sigh.
I feel her arms squeeze mine and her head push harder into my arm and I notice I am smiling. There is no reason to judge, no reason to fill the empty space with words and lessons; it is just the perfection of the open moment.
And like that, the sky opens up and the sun breaks through. Beams of muted yellow land on wet lawn. “Daddy look!” I see where her fingers are pointing, her body wiggling in awe and excitement, “It’s a rainbow, daddy!” I pick her up and sit her in my lap. We breathe together again. “Daddy, we put the flower back now so it can go home?”
There isn’t a need to force the moment. It will reveal itself.
“Above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you. Because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.”
~ Ronald Dahl
Editor: Dana Gornall