What would I have missed if I was not willing to pay attention?
A few nights ago, as I was writing, my daughter walked past me to go to the bathroom. Less than a minute later, she came back and told me that the house was too dark and she was scared to go to the bathroom by herself. I reminded her that she is almost four and she knows how to turn the lights on. I told her how brave I know her to be and that I knew she could do it on her own. Still, she stood next to me and asked me to take her to the bathroom. She wanted me to carry her.
As I picked her up, her little arms wrapped around me and I understood. She seemed heavier than the day before. She seemed taller and older than the last time I carried her, even if it was no more than twenty-four hours prior. She was growing up and my embrace could not slow it down. It was in that moment that I understood every request by this little girl to be with me was an honor that needed my attention. She needed my attention.
I held her. I truly held her, knowing that this was life and it would be different in the blink of an eye. Soon, this moment I was allowed to have with her will no longer be a possibility or at least it will not be the same. For now, for as long as I can and for as long as she lets me, I will carry her wherever she asks and I will consider it a blessing to do so.
-Robert Van Valkenburgh teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at Kogen Dojo