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The Valley, May 2014


Joanne Wills-Kline Contentment Quest

Lessons from Luca

Recently, we shared our humble abode with two houseguests. Our visitors traveled from the most remote destination on Earth; an island located in the hemisphere where east meets west… a place known to the entire world as paradise… beautiful Oahu, Hawaii. Our guests journeyed with a great purpose; an excursion to celebrate a rite of passage… one’s first trip around the sun… a milestone first birthday. Our houseguests were Rick’s daughter and her son Luca who would celebrate his first birthday party at the PSU blue/white game. Their presence graced our home for nearly two weeks. Over the course of their six week trip, they visited friends and family in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The weather during their trip was Luca’s first experience with cold temperatures, snow flurries, and cold weather clothes. Many people traveled from near and far to celebrate Luca’s first birthday. They came from different states: Oregon, Florida,

Washington D.C., Northern New Jersey, New York, and all across Pennsylvania. They came from different upbringings and means, but they all came together as one big ohana (Hawaiian word for family) for one big reason – Luca’s first year. Everybody in Luca’s big blended ohana had something special that they wanted to share with him during his visit. Some shared nursery rhymes. Some shared songs. Some shared new foods. Some passed down clothes from boys before him; some passed down stories of Luca’s heritage; some passed down customs; but all passed down love. I wanted to share so much with Luca, such as my love of books and the written word; backyard BBQ’s and mountain pies; and the natural world within our property space. I wanted to teach him so much… but instead, something unexpected happened… he taught me. First, Luca taught me the significance of expression. Luca

squealed when delighted, fussed when frustrated, and cried when unhappy. He lived in the present moment and placed his attention in the here and now. Spending time with Luca reminded me to keep my attention in the here and now. It also reminded me of a quote by Mindfulness Master Jon Kabat-Zinn “Wherever you go, there you are.” Living in the present moment enriches our lives and the lives of others – reminder noted and lesson learned. Second, Luca taught me the value of listening to one’s body and the benefit of comfort. If Luca was feeling frustrated he “voiced” his frustration by fussing. He in no way shape or form was willing to adapt and freely accept frustration and discomfort. Instead, he worked with his environment to actively reduce frustration and increase his level of comfort. Watching him made me wonder why do we as adults just “accept” high levels of frustration and discomfort. Why on earth do many of us adults wear frustration, discomfort, exhaustion, stress and over-productivity like a badge? It made me wonder at what point in our lives, what age range, do we “learn” to accept that discomfort is a given in life? Luca bubbled over with giggles, smiles, and full belly laughs when his comfort level was high. He exuded a sense of security, ease and relaxation when he was comfortable and cozy. Luca ate when he was hungry and stopped when he was full. He enjoyed wholesome natural foods as he had not yet been tainted with processed and refined foods. Luca ate slowly and savored his

meals. Eating was a sort of sacred experience for him. It was almost as though he “knew” that nutritious food was a gift of sustenance for body mind and spirit. Luca enjoyed exploring his food, and he was very mindful of texture and temperature. Eating was definitely a here and now experience for him. We adults should always give ourselves permission to seek comfort and alleviate frustration. We should rest when we are tired and sleep long and restful hours to restore our minds and physical bodies. We should consume nutritious foods and slowly savor our meals giving thanks for the gift of sustenance. Spending time with Luca reminded me to honor my body and treat it with respect. It also reminded me of a quote by the great American dancer Martha Graham “The body is a sacred garment: it is what you enter life in, and depart life with, and it should be treated with honor, and with joy, and with fear as well. But always though with blessing” - reminder noted and lesson learned. Lastly, Luca taught me to recognize awe in the everyday world all around us. Spending time with Luca revitalized my senses. He took pleasure in the tactile world. Luca enjoyed being outdoors touching the grass, leaves, and trees. He always stopped still to listen to the birds sing. He enjoyed playing with Isaac the cat and was fascinated with his fur and purrs. He delighted in the crisp breeze and warm sunshine on his checks. He lifted his face to the sky, eyes closed, to savor the feeling, and giggled afterward. He curiously engaged in the world around him and attempted to mimic what others were doing. Spending time with Luca reminded me to mindfully observe the world around me – my world – whether it is my living room,

my backyard, or my community. He reminded me that the world is still a beautiful place… even amidst difficulties. It also reminded me of a quote by Frank Herbert “Without new experiences, something inside us sleeps. The sleeper must awaken.” And, a quote by Emily Dickinson “Find ecstasy in life, the mere sense of living is joy enough.” I didn’t expect to be the student during Luca’s visit. I expected to be the teacher. But, as the old adage goes “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” As I look back over the experiences Luca and I shared during the visit, I am grateful for the opportunity to have spent time with him, and it is my hope that our time together created a positive impact in the little man’s life. In closing, I leave with a brief message for Luca and a quote by Cecil Beaton: “Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.” ~ Cecil Beaton Dear Luca, May you always voice your truth and utilize creative expression. May you always listen to your body, intuition, and the plea for comfort without any apologies. May you recognize your body as a sacred garment and treat it with honor and respect throughout your life. May you always “let yourself be drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love” (Rumi, 12th century Persian Poet). And, may you know that throughout your life’s journey, near and far, east to west, and north to south, there will always be a big blended ohana to welcome you home. With much love, Baba a

May 2014 the valley new online  
May 2014 the valley new online  

The Valley is a FREE monthly newspaper serving Mifflin and surrounding counties in central Pennsylvania.