Babies come forth to remind adults of that which they have forgotten . . . Look into the eyes of a little one and see the wisdom of his true knowing. He knows that All-Is-Well. He has come to remind you. Abraham-Hicks
Already he is my greatest teacher. And there are no lectures in his classrooms, no homework assignments, no taking notes, or studying for tests. He is my ten day old grandson, Viren, and his University is the world of hanging out, the world of basking in well-being, and nothing, nothing in this universe, is more compelling to me. A friend of mine shared a metaphor yesterday, one that she had heard at a seminar last weekend, that we are all like corks floating in an ever-expanding sea of well-being, well-being that is always, always here for us. And, often, we weigh ourselves down, under the water’s surface, with our contrasting thoughts, with our fears and worries and jealousies, with our old stories that keep us stuck. We forget that we don’t need to stay stuck, that we can let go, that the momentum will carry us, with ease, back to the surface, that we are buoyant beings with joyful spirits.
For six days, while Shel napped in the early afternoon and Pete wrote the epilogue for his dissertation, Viren and I hung out together on the living room couch. Shel provided a bottle of breast milk, and, for delicious lingering moments, Viren snuggled close while I offered him sustenance. His eyes are a deep blue, and, as he sucked down his mother-food, he looked up at me and he blinked and he stared and there was nothing else to do but look down at him and love him dearly. And when he took on a blissed-out filled-up Buddha-type look, there was nothing for me to do but feel my own blissed-out filled-up Buddha-type look. And when he began to doze, I found myself, one who seldom claims the time for an afternoon nap, beginning to doze as well. Sometimes, as I sprawled out, I would bend my knees and prop his back against them and just watch him sleep. What is it about a newborn that is so intoxicating, that draws us in and blisses us out? His sleep-smiles, his half-awake-frowns and furrowed brow, his cock-eyed wake-up moments, his blue-eyed stares, his puff-breaths – I was transfixed by it all.
And sure, Viren has those below-the-surface moments where his cork is pulled down. Sure, he gets hungry like the rest of us. And he lets us know it. He puckers up his little face and squawks his newborn squawk and he clutches his teeny-tiny fists into balls. But then as soon as he is offered food, he relaxes again, sighs a deep breath, allows himself to be brought up to that floating-in-the-sea-of-well-being place. You can see it happen. You can feel it happen. The letting go, the easing up. There is nothing wrong with the diving down, with the exploration of that world of hunger and desire, with the holding of the breath and the swimming around in search of something new. That’s how we grow. That’s why we’re here. It’s when we get stuck down there in the underworld that we find ourselves in a breathless cut-off-from-our-well-being state, when we forget that we can float back to the surface with ease, that our hungers can be satisfied, not by desperately holding our breath, but by letting go, like Viren, and relaxing into the sustenance that is present for us in the moment. And it is always present for us when we relax, the answers that we are seeking, the nourishment that feeds our hunger.
I remember when I learned to float on my back. I was six years old that summer and already an expert at the Crocodile, planting my hands in the sandy bottom and crawling around in the shallow waters of our cove’s high tide mark. But on this day, my big sister, who was eleven and already an impressive swimmer, introduced me to something new. She held me up as I lay on my back in waters that were a little deeper. At first, I clenched my fists and tightened up, but then I relaxed into her support and then I relaxed into the water’s support and then I was floating, all by myself, with the whole ocean beneath me and the whole sky above me. It was exhilarating. It was easy. And it wasn’t long before I, too, became an impressive swimmer – a little mermaid, my father called me – and I loved the paddling and the kicking and the moving my body in freestyle and breaststroke and butterfly and backstroke, the swimming out into the deeper waters. And I loved the diving down, too, the holding my breath and exploring the grassy kelp-swaying underworld. But I think that floating on my back was always my favorite, the way the salt held me up and I felt myself melting into the water’s gentle motion, melting into something bigger than my little mind could grasp.
I’m home now in Upper Michigan, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I’m already plotting my next “Viren Fix”. I’ll be flying out west again over Labor Day weekend for another stretch of time with my grandson. And why wouldn’t I?!? I want to be involved in his life. I want to pour my love onto him. I want to witness our kids, his parents, becoming – no, not becoming – already being these amazing, attentive, delighted parents. And do I have to wait six weeks for a flight out west to be blissed out? Because it’s pretty much a guarantee that time with Viren is a gateway to bliss. I don’t think so. Viren, the newborn – great teacher that he is – is reminding me that floating in a sea of well-being is mine for the taking. I just need to relax and smile and let it happen.