My son sits in the back seat. A toy truck in his small hands. We are on 29 driving to Lowe’s to pick up some bags of sand for a basketball goal I took off a neighbor’s hands the day before.
I’ve been threatening to erect a basketball hoop in my driveway for almost seven years, and now, glory, all ten feet from the base to the rim.
In the rearview, I glance back at my son Henry. He’s wearing a black t-shirt that has on its front drawings of insects, different kinds, beetles and flies—bugs that shout, “I am a boy!” He moves the toy truck into the air as if it has wings and glides on air.
“Do you know what my favorite thing to do with my dad was when I was growing up,” I ask Henry.
“What?” my son replies.
“Ride in my dad’s pickup truck. It didn’t matter where we went so long as I was with him.”
It’s easy to forget that the smallest of moments in life can bring us the greatest joy. There’s something to be said about presence, about undivided attention.
Riding with my dad to get firewood or to Papa Pillow’s store in Old Well. Down to Granddaddy Duck’s pond. Throwing baseball in the backyard, my dad’s hat turned around backward as he crouched on his knees in his torn blue jeans. Shooting tin cans down Hill Cross Road. Hitting golf balls in the cow pasture. As I grew older, we’d sit in the living room, he and I, and talk for hours—my mom asleep, snoring on the couch adjacent us.
“Gwen, get up and go to bed.”
“What? Huh. What? What time is it?”
“I’m not asleep. What time is it?”
Yet in the day to day, we often lose sight of these small moments. Rarely are we there, all of us, attentive. Being still, present in the moment, we’ve turned into a near impossible task. We find ourselves in a constant state of distraction, be the stimuli internal or external, an endless loop circling.
We overcomplicate the simple—why?
“Do you care where we go?”
“I like riding with you.”
“I like riding with you, too, Mr. Heddy.”