oh, ice cream. this week i took my daughter, Willow, to get some ice cream and it was quite magical. there’s a sort of specialty ice cream parlor here in Ann Arbor (called Blank Slate; check it out if you’re ever around, and be sure to let me know so we can meet!) and it opened back up recently for the season. i was having a craving for ice cream, so we went.
this trip was magical for several different reasons:
1. before my daughter and i left the house i asked her if she liked ice cream. she said, rather seriously and quietly and after a brief pause to let my words sink in, ‘yeah’ while gently nodding her head (meaning, nearly her entire upper body; so cute). this is fairly new for her and anytime she does something new it’s worthy of a fireworks display. or, ice cream. this was confirmation that we had to go.
2. i was having ice cream with my daughter. my daughter. the weirdness of having a child has yet to fully pass. i don’t think it ever will, as i think life is just generally weird. all of it all the time. i describe everything as weird, so this likely won’t change. anyway, i was having ice cream with my child. or, should i say children? because my inner child was the one fully immersed in the pleasure of it all (or at least the consumption of the ice cream).
3. there were very few people in the store. this was heaven for my introverted, highly sensitive self. my daughter had enough people to stare at while i could just sit and indulge myself and just be.
but there’s something deeper to this experience, what i’m now referring to as ‘ice cream date’ experiences. it was a rather spontaneous trip, one born of craving and desire. i allowed myself to lean in, fully, without guilt or shame or resistance (and i’m usually resistant to most things, on some level). the deeper part was allowing myself to experience pleasure. period.
time slowed down for a bit during this visit at the ice cream store. Willow sat in her high chair, looking around and scooping herself a little more ice when she wanted it. it was raining outside. it was quiet inside. we were having fun, just being together. i was having fun, just being with myself.
it’s in these little moments when my heart breaks open and i’m flooded by life and the beauty and pain it holds. the awareness that these moments with my girl will be so short-lived is heartbreaking. that i wasn’t able to hold on to her babyhood, and won’t be able to hold on to her toddlerhood either. most memories will be eventually pushed out by new ones over time. it’s both wonderful to know there’s more goodness to come, and devastating to know there’s so much slipping through my hands without any say on my part.
so, i suppose the work of integration is to fully allow the despair to settle so my heart can open wide enough to let these memories leave a mark on my psyche, soul, heart, and mind. to let myself love these moments means i also have to let them pass. because love is what’s here now, in this moment. tapping into anything else is resistance or fear, creating the illusion of control or certainty, and keeps me from being fully awake to my experience.
this is new for me. i typically disconnect from many experiences because every time i open wide i cry. i cry about birds flying in the sky getting food for their babies, about fish swimming with plastic, about the hate in the world, about time passing. what happens when you allow yourself to open? what touches you in those soft places? what holds you back from going there?
as my final note (instruction?) here – allow yourself to enjoy the littlest of moments. when you’re waiting in line for your coffee, smile at someone and share in your humanity the need for love and to be treated with kindness. when you’re on the subway, get to know your neighbor. or, just breathe deeply for 5 minutes and be glad you can be carried home rather than driving your own car. there’s beauty everywhere.
even in the ugly.
even in the dark.
and if you don’t see it around you, look within. consider that YOU are the beauty in the situation. own the beauty you bring to the world.