Children Running Through


Since I have now broken you into poetry, I figure I've got license to sneak it in more often.  Here's a beautiful Rumi poem that has been important to me all year and came up again today:

On Children Running Through
from The Essential Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks

I used to be shy.
You made me sing.

I used to refuse things at table.
Now I shout for more wine.

In somber dignity, I used to sit
on my mat and pray.

Now children run through
and make faces at me.

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This morning I went for a run after our Mother's Day maple bars.  I could talk about Western Donut's maple bars all day, but I'll just say for now they are ambrosial, and Yancey and Wyatt ran and got them for me before I woke up. On my run, I was thinking about something my sister said last night, which was that I seem more lighthearted and less intense these days.  Or, in Rumi's words, more likely to skip the somber dignity in favor of children running through and making faces at me.

Nearing the end of my run and smiling to myself about this, I encountered three children playing tag in front of their house. They waved and ran along with me for a block.  They didn't talk to me directly, but just kept company a few paces, still laughing and talking amongst themselves.  It was like I got caught in a flock of joy, carried along by a tailwind of sheer happiness.  The Sun had an interview this month with Barbara Fredrickson, a psychologist who's spent more than 20 years researching positive emotions. She says, 

We should be focusing on how we feel from day to day, not on how we can become happy with life in general.  If you focus on day-to-day feelings, you end up building your resources and becoming your best version of yourself. Down the road, you'll be happier with life.  Rather than staring down happiness as our goal and asking ourselves, "How do I get there?" we should be thinking about how to create positive emotions in the moment.

Though we have been happy, healthy, and cared-for, the last three years have been a little bit hard.  Lots of transition and uncertainty and trying to live in the moment in spite of that.  This morning, getting caught up in the flock of children and eating maple bars with my family, I felt a kind of real-time happiness--the kind that doesn't need hindsight to be complete. And I knew that somber dignity is overrated and hasn't really produced much in my life.  Though I don't recognize it many days, I need children running through, and their silly faces save me from myself all the time.