Sticky and tired, my girls and I sat staring at each other after lunch. Our friends had just left, after a full 24 hours of Canada Day celebrations. We were all tired, my husband had left for the afternoon and the skies were threatening rain.
What am I going to do with these kids all afternoon? I thought to myself, knowing that I had two goals: Not to spend any money, and not to stay home.
I thought of the breezy beach twenty minutes down the road, threw together a lunch bag, grabbed a towel and the three of us climbed into the car.
As soon as we stepped out of the car, the kids’ energy picked up. We dug in the sand, filled buckets with water, ran on the beach, watched people swim, shrieking with delight as a cold waves splashed up against their backs for the first time.
After a half a dozen trips down to the waters’ edge to collect wet sand for castles, I noticed my five year old, Alena, lingering in the ankle deep water. I thought about calling her back, I thought about the wet shorts that would ensue, the sandy underwear, the mess she would leave in my husband’s car. Then I thought about her passionate love of the beach. Each summer, she gasps in delight at the sand between her toes, as if it is the most enjoyable sensation she has ever felt.
Instead of calling her back, I watched her play. She stepped, then hopped in the shallow waves. She pushed her hands through the wet sand, and eventually she sat down, in her shorts, engrossed in the present moment.
In Sanscrit, the word “now” is translated as “atha”. The meaning is more encompassing than the context in which we use it, though. Atha is a moment to moment transition. It is the cumulative moments that have lead you to be exactly where you are, exactly as you are in this moment. How much we can grow if we take time to exist mindfully in the present moment.
I let Alena play, She ran back and forth between the water’s edge and myself, updating me on her wet clothes, her sandy feet, that she fell into the water. I noticed an older couple watching her, taking in her joy with smiles.
Eventually, Leila, my older daughter, left her buckets behind to run beside her sister. As they ran farther and farther down the beach, I followed, letting the waves push themselves up over my ankles. The girls ran, getting soaked, screaming at waves, falling over with laughter. I soaked it all in, snapping pictures in my mind that I hope to keep forever.
Atha. Now. Mindfulness. Presence.