In The Miracle of Mindfulness, what at first enlightened me most, was not the teaching from Thich Nhat Hanh, but a conversation between him and his friend Allen which was mentioned in Chapter 1. While the two of them met in Paris, Thich Nhat Hanh asked Allen, “A lot of people say that if you have a family you’re less lonely and have more security. is that true?” Allen nodded and said, “I’ve discovered a way to have a lot more time. In the past, I used to look at my time as if it were divided into several parts. One part I reserved for Joey, another part for Sue, another part to help with Ana, another part for household work. The time left over I considered my own. I could read, write, do research, go for walks. But now I try not to divide time into parts anymore. I consider my time with Joey and Sue as my own time. When I help Joey with his homework, I try to find ways of seeing his time as my own time…The time for him becomes my own time. The same with Sue. The remarkable thing is that now I have unlimited time for myself!”
If I have to be honest and look back at my almost two-year-old motherhood, I would frankly tell you that no matter how sweet and happy I feel when I am with my son Julian, at times I still would become frustrated for no longer having time for myself. I once heard a mother exclaim, when people look at you, they will only see you as the mother of your child, and not you alone anymore. Perhaps, out of fear, whenever I feel like I could not squeeze out any time to do creative work for myself, I would prepare tools for Julian to paint or play with playdough. When I watch how his enthusiastic little fingers move awkwardly, the uneasiness I feel would temporarily go away.
At the end of the book, Thich Nhat Hanh has also mentioned a short story written by Tolstoy: in order to seek answers for three unresolved questions, one emperor disguised himself as a simple peasant and went to see a hermit who lived in the mountains. The emperor asked the hermit, “When is the best time to do each thing? Who are the most important people to work with? What is the most important thing to do at all times?” After the emperor had gone through a series of trials, the hermit finally gave his answer, “Remember that there is only one important time and that is now. The present moment is the only time over which we have dominion. the most important person is always the person you are with, who is right before you, for who knows if you will have dealings with any other person in the future? The most important pursuit is making the person standing at your side happy, for that alone is the pursuit of life.”
For a while, I was reluctant to use this penguin jug made by Takara Kinoshita, so I placed it on my desk for viewing pleasure instead, but it ended up looking rather lonely and sad. Then came one day when Julian miraculously imitated me to make a duck out of the playdough instead of throwing it onto the floor, and I realised the time for doing creative work has always been there. Since then, I have been using this jug to store these two playdough ducks. Whenever I look at them, they will remind me that any moment being with Julian will always be my very own happy moment.