“Doing nothing often leads to the very best of something.” Wise words from Winnie the Pooh in Disney’s Christopher Robin. This bear of very little brain and yet very big heart is really advocating mindfulness. A concept that has become more popular as of late. Mindfulness is about living in the moment - being fully present. Noticing everything around you and letting your senses take in the surroundings, stopping for a moment to enjoy the beauty inherent in daily life. That sense of wonder that may be lost if you are busy worrying about a future possibility that may or may not pan out. By not allowing yourself to jump ahead to what could happen while mulling over possible problems that could theoretically be encountered, experts claim anxiety can be reduced and effectively managed. Joyful surprises are around every corner if we stop to notice what is really going on around us.
Winnie the Pooh seems to be a master of mindfulness. Illustrated in a conversation with Christopher Robin during the movie.
“What day is it?” Pooh asks.
“It’s today.” Christopher answers.
“Oh, my favorite day!”
“Yesterday when it was tomorrow, it was too much day for me.”
If we knew what would happen tomorrow, the worry could become overwhelming; and, for many, being caught up in what could happen is anxiety-inducing. To me it reinforces the need to build hope into our daily lives. Every day is recommended, and today is the best day to start. Tomorrow’s burdens are unclear, so beginning the practice immediately ensures proper preparation.
This point was illustrated for me personally on a recent Friday as I sat having lunch and my phone started blowing up with texts. I desperately need to switch over to my new phone, as my current device is not working so well. I was part of a group text that included everyone in the family but seemed to be missing a crucial part of the story. The rapid fire missives were Samuel and Maurice telling Noah to stay safe. It seemed odd. The next text from Noah arrived with a simple message,
WHAT?!? Warning bells were going off in my head. An affectionate man in person with his family, he NEVER texts that way. Something was amiss. Turning my phone off and back on revealed the missing information. There was an active shooter or bomb threat in the building where he works. He was being evacuated and would be in touch when possible.
Being a person of action, it was time to spring. I began another group text with my husband and Samuel. Should I go to Fairfax where he was? Everyone had the same thought as we each sat in meetings. Each of us ready to walk out and do anything necessary. The immediate area around the building would be closed, but there is something to be said for being as geographically close as possible. The oft-told story of Admiral McCain getting a helicopter to take him to the DMZ every Christmas that his son, the future Senator from Arizona, was being held as prisoner of war, always struck a chord with me. He did so because it was the closest he could get to his son, painting a hauntingly beautiful picture of a paternal love from this salty naval officer, expressed in such a tender way.
The full story of what was unfolding closer to home in Northern Virginia was related later. Of the call that came into a receptionist on the floor of Noah’s building with the chilling words, “If you are in the building, you are dead.” Everyone taking quick action to gather up colleagues and leave. Arriving at an open elevator and people ready to embark, Noah urged the stairs. In case of a bomb, no one wants to be in an elevator. He described the dread that with every step down seven flights that he took, would the next include a blast? At every landing, the possibility of a gunman emerging raining bullets on anyone in sight. Arriving at the lobby to carefully open the door and survey what was happening. The moments of doubt - should he just continue down to the parking garage, get in his car and leave? Remembering the World Trade Center bombing of 1993 was from the parking garage, the decision was made to leave the building. Everyone was eventually moved to another building and he ended up in a conference room with ninety fellow workers. The wait commenced.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, this mass of employees were cleared to return to work. Even after averting the crisis, the details of what really happened remained unclear. We all breathed a sigh of relief as the day continued. By the middle of the night, an allergic reaction to a medication that a doctor warned might happen, a virus and a cocktail of stress created hives all over his body. After a weekend in and out of the Emergency Room finding a remedy, we all found ourselves tangled up on the sofa at my house, where once again we drink in those moments that nurture the connection and love that we cherish.
A rare silence settles over the room. I ask, “What day is it?”
“Sunday” . . . “January 13” . . . rings out.
“But, what day is it?” I persist.
“Ah yes. I thought so. And I don’t want it to ever end."
Never waiting, it was time to once again Cultivate Hope. Today.