“Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children.” – Khalil Gibran
I’ve been working in a wonderful job … a job offering fresh air and sunshine, physical labor, and rich, endless opportunities for connections. Being out in nature with my diverse and supportive tribe, where there is frequent and deep community contact, all resonate like no job before. And each work day I’m lucky enough to bathe in connections … each offering surprises and joy blended with opportunities to observe and learn about myself.
One of my many roles is to engage visitors to the Russian River and offer them free use of life jackets during their day at the river’s edge, or during their travels down river. Recently, I was at one of the Forestville beaches cleaning life jackets at the river’s edge. It was a slow day, with only a couple of families present. As I worked alone near the water, I laid out several jackets to dry in the sun and sat myself down on an isolated log nearby. I took in the sun, reflected on the beauty of the setting, and awaited my jackets to dry.
As I sat, I saw a small form approach. As it neared, the form took shape … a toddler cautiously taking step after step towards my meditative spot. Each step confident yet still gaining experience with how best to keep one’s body upright. And as his parents and I watched this young beach explorer approach, he “walked” up to me and my log, and calmly sat down beside me.
Leo had chosen me … a strange guy in a strange land doing some strange thing … and he had silently claimed his spot as my comrade in this simple encampment along the river. And there … looking down at him and him looking up at me … deep, wonderful connection unfolded.
Leo enjoyed seeing rocks splash in the river, and as he refined his pitching technique I quickly filled my role as “purveyor of projectiles”, supplying him with stones best fitted for his unique technique and its intended purpose. His stern, serious engagement told me this task was not trivial … it was a task needing doing and doing in a quite serious manner. So as a team, we undertook the challenge until he felt satisfied in both effort and results.
On this hot, sunny afternoon my washed life vests dried. After gathering them I needed to latch the three straps on each before returning them to their storage location. As I stood to go over to the vests to finish my work, Leo now saw his role in assisting me as I had for him. He quickly yet still cautiously walked over with me and watched as I did my series of tasks on the first vest … the last step being engaging the clasp for each of three belts on each vest. Noticing his gaze, I demonstrated to Leo how each step moved to the final clasping, and when clasping I emphasized the move by adding a muffled “grunt” as I engaged the clasp. Leo appeared to take in every moment with great delight.
But like many of us, Leo paid special interest to one task within the many … one resonating with his inner rhythm … the engagement of the clasp. So as I set aside the first, completed vest Leo straightened it then quickly reached out for the next vest’s clasp … eyes focused on the clasp needing connecting. Leo’s strength was not enough to complete the intended task, so together we collaborated, worked as a team, and with Leo’s hands atop mine we pressed the opposite ends of the clasp until an audible “click” was heard. And together, in unison, we both softly “grunted” as our shared effort flowed from our hands into the ends of the clasps. It was truly a magical moment as I felt our joint effort accomplish the task, sensed Leo’s delight in a job well done, heard Leo’s “grunt”, and saw his stern look as he knew serious work remained.
This small yet motivated team continued its efforts for the next 10 minutes until all the vests were properly gathered and stacked. Then it was my duty to bring the stack up the hill to a box where they lived when not in use. But Leo was not done … for he held on to one vest and walked alongside me until I began climbing up to the box. At that point I took several moments to thank him for enriching my day and doing such a good job, thanked his dad for allowing Leo to join me, and carried this wonderful encounter, so rich in feelings from this rare, rich connection back with me for the rest of the day. And the inner glow flowing within me filled me with warmth equal to the sun shining down from above. And all seemed good in this world sometimes fogged with confusion.
As I’ve said in past posts, life is comprised of stories. Leo’s story is now one of those chapters in my journey’s chronology. But Leo’s story is also in bold type because of the pureness of the connection … its depth … its being based totally on feelings and senses, not dialog … and its simplicity. The blend of all those factors made it uniquely sweet.
It was indeed a moment worth living … worth the price of admission … and it rests high among all the stories I carry within me as moments offering what I seek most in life … rich, deep, and feeling-filled connections.
Thank you, Leo, … and may your journey through life be one filled with richness.