It Doesn’t Matter Where We Go

quote from zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance
Quote from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values

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?”

“You’re snoring.”

“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?”

“No.”

“Me neither.”

“Daddy.”

“Yes, sir.”

“I like riding with you.”

“I like riding with you, too, Mr. Heddy.”

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  1. This is so true. Not until recently did I realize how often I am distracted by my phone when I’m around my kids. One day when my son was tugging on my shirt it hit me. What’s more important, checking Facebook or giving my son my undivided attention? I knew the answer but it wasn’t until then I started acting like I knew the answer. Thank you for the gentle reminder about enjoying the simple moments in life and being present in the here & now

    1. Same. I can tell myself it’s harmless, but it’s not. I know how I felt when I was younger and the phone played a similar role in our house. There’s a Louis C.K. clip on YouTube about him giving up the internet and having his daughter set a password so he (the dad) couldn’t get on because it was feeding so much of his inattention. Check it out if you haven’t already seen it.

  2. Thanks , this brought back a lot of sweet memories of the simple things that I miss so much with my parents and my sister when I was so much younger.

    1. You’re welcome. And thank you for reading. I was talking to a friend yesterday and the conversation came up how, as a culture, we’ve become disconnected from nature and simplicity. It’s like we’ve forgotten how to embrace one another fully. We’re constantly stimulated by something, be it our own thoughts or an outside distraction, and place what’s most important in a secondary position. We need to change that and return to the simple joys we had a children.

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