Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Eleven Months (Part Two)

The Three Questions by Jon J. Muth

So, I was reading this book to Lucas and Quinn the other night. I bought it when he was a wee one at a great local store that, unfortunately, no longer exists. Though the book seemed a bit too deep for a newborn, I imagined the day that I would pull it out and read it to my children, enlightening their beautiful little minds. Well, that day has finally arrived.

It's a story of a young boy who feels that if he can discover the truth regarding three questions, then his life will begin to unfold as he always wanted. The questions are "When is the best time to do something?", "Who is the most important person in my life?" and "What is the right thing to do?". They are three fundamental questions that we are constantly asking ourselves no matter where we are in our lives. Well, the boy asks his companions (a heron, a monkey and a dog), who give various answers depending on the nature of who they are but this doesn't satisfy him, all seem to have something missing. Finally he goes to ask the wise old turtle who lives up the mountain and in the process of spending the day with the sage, discovers that the answers to his questions lie in the very heart of life as it plays out day-by-day, moment-by-moment.

The book is based on a story by Leo Tolstoy, which was the main reason I bought it (I don't know what it is, but I'm inexplicably drawn to the giants in Russian literature from the turn of the twentieth century, I feel intimately connected to them for some reason). At the time that I purchased it I didn't read the book completely but it liked the artwork and the story seemed like it was philosophically universal, which is part of the educational foundation that we are trying to provide for our kids. Well, as I finished reading it to my two love children, I was really blown away by its heart-felt message.

The best time for us to do something in our lives is right before us. Our experiences that occur at each moment are there for a reason. Instead of strategizing about when I can do something important or fun or useful or exciting, if we embrace the moment, then our task right then becomes truly important.

With that same thought then, the most important person in our lives is the person with which we share this moment. Whoever we are with, treat them as if they are the most important person in our lives.

Once we appreciate and embrace whoever is in our environment, then we naturally want to do good by them and that is always the right thing to do. That is how we can live peaceful and enjoyable lives.

It seems so simple but in our selfish culture, we unfortunately fall into the habit of always wishing for more. We never seem to have enough. In this holiday season, I feel that it's important to remember that we are infinitely wealthy. We have so much. Our garages are bulging from all of our stuff. The arteries in our landfills are clogging to the point of cardiac arrest. Our houses grow bigger every time we plant-down a new development. It's an endless cycle of consumption that has finally begun to reach its limit. The recession isn't happening because we don't have enough money. It's because we don't have enough space for all of our shit! Instead of bailing out the old dinosaur capitalist venture, why don't we adapt to the needs of the world. We are bloated beyond our capacity. We need to start on a new exercise regiment, work-out some of the fat that has made us unbearably obese. Do we really need to buy a new car just so the auto industry won't collapse? My old car gets me where I want to go just fine. Do my children really need more toys that I don't have room for? They just end up at the thrift store anyway? Let's downsize the old economy, create a leaner sustainable system that appreciates people before product. Let's stop trampling the very life-force of humanity because there's an unbelievable sale at Wal-Mart! Let's breath the fucking air while we still can, before the long term effects of this nasty diseased culture kill us all!

The best part about reading this book to my children was that it was the end to a wonderful day. I came home from work, took them to the library. Then Lucas had gymnastics, so the three of us headed out together. When we returned home, I made dinner and we all sat down to a great meal. We played Chutes and Ladders. We played some more. And not once, did I feel the need to check the internet, to focus on my own various distractions. So to end the day with this beautiful book and its timeless message that I was truly living, I simply looked at the kidlets and my heart tingled.

I realized that in order for my kids to turn into amazing human beings, then I need to implant these type of messages into their lives as much as possible. I need to read this book to them a hundred times so that they can read it to themselves while they sleep. We are constantly fighting the good fight with everything that we put into our lives. Our culture likes to implant images of violence and patriarchy and segregation and sexism and racism and greed and hunger and anger and need. But we also have the means to implant things of wonder and beauty and compassion and generosity and wisdom and nurture and love. I want my children to get more of the latter from me because they help make the dream real.

One other thing; this very evening Quinn began to wave when you say Hi to her.

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