Am I smarter than a 2nd grader???

I’m sure it was a sunny spring afternoon in my second grade class. I was sitting near the windows that looked out to the big blacktop pad and some kids running around at recess. A couple rowdy 5th grade guys were playing outside our room. They were yelling at each other and carrying on. Mr. Peterson went over to the window and barked something smart to them in his signature style. They jumped in surprise then walked away, in cooperation, so we wouldn’t be further disturbed.

I remember Mr. Peterson telling us right then, that we didn’t want to turn into big ol’ rotten 5th graders someday.

Wow. They were SO BIG. Those guys with their shaggy non-parent-combed hair and torn up jeans seemed enormous to me. Being only in second grade, I couldn’t really fathom three whole more years ahead of me. It seemed then, like I may never be as grown-up and as cool as those guys in the 5th grade…

When my sixth grade year started, and I got to the Middle School, I’m sure I thought the same thing about the 8th graders then. As a High School freshman, I could never imagine being a senior. When I made it down to Emporia to go to college, the ‘older’ experienced kids seemed so nonchalant and casual about almost everything. They didn’t give off any airs of excited buzz and giddiness about having the chance to play like adults and party whenever they wanted… That’s exactly how I felt then.

I think about these moments in the morning when I’m spending time with my 6 month old daughter. Nestled in my lap, she reaches straight out with one arm and turns her hand. She rotates it, and then flaps all four fingers. She studies the way it looks, and must be learning to pair her intuitive instructions with the hand itself. It’s so cute to watch her amazement.

I stick my big paw out there too, for her to see. I turn it and flap, matching her moves. I wonder if she thinks about the scale difference like I do. Hers so small and pink with new life. Mine large, bent and scarred. If she is playing on the ground and is ready to be picked up, I must look huge standing above her. I notice the baby-ness of her size. Funny, she really doesn’t seem too amazed by me.

No, my little daughter is still preciously living exactly in the immediate instance of the current moment. It’s easy to see that every quantum flash of her existence is expressed as it happens. She is always right now and then right now and then right now. Whether it is a smile in response to the rattle of a toy, or a cry of hunger with the bottle or breast inches from her lips, she is living the immediate moment.

At some point in my life, and yours too, we all lived absolutely presently. Later though, we became more aware and maybe sadly so, of the future, and of the past. These thieves crept into our minds and began to nibble away at our attention. They grabbed bites of our  awareness and we felt regret about things already done and over with, or worry about possible events to come. Little Joella, doesn’t seem bothered by any of this…

I know it was second grade when my mind was clearly wandering into the future and wondering about how I would ever arrive waay out there on the playground as a fifth grader… I probably then spent precious energy in self judgment over wrongs committed in the past, to my Sister or Mommy. I probably thought about some time I didn’t clean my room when I was supposed to, and thought I ‘should’ be a better kid.

I hope not everyone spends their God-given day reaching mentally backwards or leaning forward into the foggy mist. These are places we cannot control or change or exactly predict. We can work in the now though to be light. We can laugh and play and smile no matter what happened in our past. We can cry and scream too, if something is hurting us right now. We don’t need to look for the boogey-man and worry if he’ll come, if we are doing things today that build and strengthen our character for tomorrow.

Babies are wonderful to watch. We love to just stare at them and watch them be. Joella is never complacent. She is constantly on-mission. She may be reaching or wiggling or taste-testing some toy. She is always doing something to the fullest she can. Sometimes that means to crash fast asleep immediately after a playful game of peekaboo. All babies do this I imagine. They are just always exercising into the games of life. Curious and learning, ever expressing themselves completely.

Actually anyone who is living so presently and so comprehensively is enchanting to behold. You know who these folks are. You want to be around them, you feel better in their presence. Their elixir of life is invigorating, while soothing and reassuring. They remind us that everything is truly okay, right now, and even good, exactly as it is.

Until next week, be well my friends. God Bless.


Aaron Nichols

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