There's one inauguration I love watching every year, one that I forget about until I see it and then I remember.
The kids reuniting with the water.
They charge in, splashing and laughing. The bigger boys tackle each other, go under the water for a nanosecond and then emerge, heads bobbing like seals as they blow water out their noses and trash talk. The younger kids, armored up in floaties, shriek and belly flop and then do it again and again and again. It doesn't matter if the water is cold or if they just dropped their only sandwich in the dirt. They are in it and they are happy to be in it. What happened before doesn't matter. What will happen next doesn't matter much either. They are present in that one rapturous moment. And if that moment is done right, it'll self-perpetuate into hours of happy, deep play.
Madeleine L'Engle reflected, "When we can play with the unself-conscious concentration of a child, this is: art: prayer: love."
It's so attractive, watching kids—people—plunge into things they love with reckless abandon and unselfconscious desire. With a resilient will and a sense of purpose. They are aware of the right things: of the moment, of each other, of something they want to build. They are unaware of the right things too: themselves, how they look, what time it is.
I want that very much in my life: to embrace each moment the way the kids run into the water. Arms wide, eyes fixed, running full tilt till I fall over laughing and squealing and splashing, simply in it.
Plunging in is always an option. Maybe the best option. No matter the moment or the work in front of you.
This is not how I typically get into anything. I don't plunge into presence, I inch.
Inching is fine. It's just self-conscious and tedious and exhausting. If the water is cold or I've been summoned into it against my will, I get in, one micro-baby-step at a time. I register each nanometer of cold water and it's impact on my system. There's no amount of coaxing or cajoling that can make me go faster. It is not pleasant. I get irritable, my whole body tenses and I seem to say, "Leave me alone, I'm inching."
Yesterday, I promised little girl I'd swim with her. She doggy paddled around me in circles, "Mama, just get in faster. It gets warmer if you get moving. Mama, just get in."
"Honey, just give me a little more time to adjust."
"Mama, you don't need time to adjust, you just need to get in."
So I did and she was right. The water wasn't agonizing anymore. It encircled and held me the way only water can—the way only a moment can.
With long strokes, I swam after my daughter.