Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Follow the Leader...or else.

It is a bright white sun light kind of Sunday afternoon. We are at El Moro Canyon on the coast of Laguna Beach for a hike with dear dear family friends. The hillsides are several shades of silky green, with patches of yellow wildflowers. The ocean breeze tousles my children's hair and they jump and skip in anticipation at the base of the gravel path. I am present to just how incredibly amazing the day is, the air, the location and our friends. Where we live is gorgeous.

My son Bodee is also gorgeous. He is days away from five, on the cusp of Big Boy-dom.
I am not sure it means anything, but he is the sign of Aries (fire sign, like me) and the Chinese horoscope Rooster (like my husband) and we sometimes lovingly joke that he is often like a Rooster with his A** on fire.
He is at the head of our pack of six kids and three adults, jogging in place, calling us forth, electric energy exuding from all pores.
We follow. He runs, he explores. He throws rocks at bugs and smashes snake holes. He is a mighty warrior through and through.
Suddenly, our mildly strenuous hike up the gently sloping hill is interrupted by his scream that is in the realm of a mortally wounded wild boar. Bodee comes running back, away from the head of the group screaming, "They are trying to get in front of me! They are cheating! They are making me not the leader!"

His misery is heart wrenching. He sulks, hangs back and pouts angrily. After some time he can't help himself but to try to be the leader again, but this time he is fierce, muttering under his breath, eyes shifting back and forth, watching his peripherals with paranoid anger. He may be the leader, but he is not having fun. He is ferociously on guard, preventing that scenario from happening again. He will NOT be bested!

I have experienced that human beings have a way of being exactly the way Bodee behaved. I know I have. We strive forth, we explore and conquer. And then somebody does something. Somebody alllways does something..that we don't like. Or something goes the way we didn't want it to go. And that's it. Forget it. Pointless, useless, and definitely less fun.

We may pick ourselves up and try again....ask a different girl to dance, work harder, work longer, and yet that past experience hangs onto us like a paranoid monkey on our back with its hands over our eyes. We can't see what's really in front of us ...which is nothing....we can only see the past experience lurking, looming, breathing down our necks threatening the future we think we are creating. THAT's not going to happen to us again! It's why wars are started and borders are created, politicians filibust and siblings and spouses silently hold grudges for years.

On the way down Bodee runs with his brothers and friends until he collapses in his fathers arms, and Todd carries him the rest of the way. He is tired from leading. He rests and restores himself. Children can sleep anywhere.

In the silence of the easy hike downward, just the sound of gravel crunching softly beneath our feet, we are present not just to nature but to human nature. I am present to how perfect he is, exactly the way he is. His striving to be a leader is an expression, as my mother would say, of life itself.

Zen Honeycutt

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