My husband and I often go for walks around the neighbourhood. Sometimes we chat a lot, sometimes not so much, but often we notice the animals and quirky little "neighbourhood treasures" that come into view, like rabbits and squirrels, or arson-melted
garbage cans and gnome gardens. We say hello to the dogs that bark at us and stop to pet the occasional cat that welcomes us (OK, it's just me that pets the cats, or at least tries to, LOL).
One day we were rounding a corner into an alley,
and while I continued walking ahead, I eventually noticed that my husband had started walking in slow motion. It took a few moments to realize what he was up to, but then I spied the "Slow Down, Kids Playing" sign, and realized he was taking it literally,
and was amusingly waiting to see if and when I caught on. He likes to do stuff like that a lot. I often appear to be his personal source of patient amusement.
On that day, the precedent (the game) was silently and knowingly set.
Every time we took the same route, and rounded the corner into the alley, we knew to slow down.
But, being aware of the game, and remembering to play the game are two entirely different things.
Quite often, both
of us would slow down upon turning the corner, but probably just as many times, one of us did not. And then it would be to the delicious amusement of the one slowing down, to see how long it took for the other one to eventually catch on. Upon realization,
the ensuing groan of acknowledgement then represented the invisible "trophy of glory" to be humbly accepted by the "winner", and perhaps accompanied by a nod, a smile, or just a satisfying internal glow.
Overall, my husband has probably
"won" more often than me, but recently, I was on a bit of a streak. It had been at least 3 times in a row where I had remembered and my husband had forgotten. Until the other day, that is.
We happened to be engrossed in a conversation
about someone else's behaviour... why they were wrong and why we were right, and how, oh yah, we know there's really no right or wrong, and that we're the ones creating the experience, and that we're just trying to fix them so we can feel better, and that
they're actually our greatest teacher, but... we're still more right and they're still more wrong... you know how that goes... or maybe you don't... perhaps that's just our personal crazy?
Anyhoo... as we rounded the corner into the alley,
my husband remembered the sign and I didn't.
And as soon as I caught on, we both laughed out loud. I was amusingly crushed upon the realization of how I had been caught unaware, how I had spoiled my "monumental" streak, and how I was now
handing over the invisible trophy. I had innocently and unknowingly been consumed by our conversation and not present to our current surroundings. I forgot the game!
My husband was obviously feeling very pleased that fortune had turned
in his favour, and after laughing out loud along with me, he pointed out how both of us had pretty well completely missed most of our environment, right from the beginning of the walk when our conversation about the "offending person" began... no bunnies,
no squirrels, no dogs, and no quirky neighbourhood treasures, even though they were certainly appearing all around us.
But in that moment of awareness, our spell was broken...
And not only the "spell of non-attention
to the present moment and environment", but also the "spell of seriousness" we had created around a person and a story that could equally be seen with much hilariousness and lightheartedness. Upon realization, the feeling of seriousness had disappeared and
the love had flooded in.
In the end, it doesn't at all matter that we got consumed by seriousness, or even (for me and my ego) that my husband came out of the spell sooner. We've done it many times before and we'll do it again. But how
fortunate we both are to understand that the "Slow Down" game is no different than the game of life. Sometimes we are present to what's really going on in the moment, and sometimes we are consumed by our made up stories, and all of that is part of the joy
and fun of getting to play at all.
I'd like to say I've learned a lesson here, and that I'm going to be a little bit more prepared for that corner on our next walk, but honestly, I never even know what I'm going to be thinking about 5
seconds from now, so what are the chances I'm NOT going to be lost in another story? Ooooooh, the anticipation!