Dying Daily #12: Experiencing Experience

This is a second draft; the original tone did not make it past my editor. In retrospect, I understand.

If you know me or if we are friends on Facebook, you know that I love being a dad. Having kids is the greatest thing ever, but they are either a crash course in acceptance or a doctoral level degree in resentment.

Apart from a few 20- 30 minute stretches, Max cried all last night. It wasn’t a whimper or sob either, but a full blown wailing, something-is-wrong kind of cry. He and I stayed up until 12:30, and then were back up for about 45 minutes or so in the middle of the night, and I know I saw B get up with him at least twice. I was already exhausted and hoping to catch up on a little bit of sleep this weekend, but I’ve learned children often give us the opposite of what we think we need.

So, I sit here this morning (he started crying again at 6:00), and I can acknowledge that I am very tired, I have a dull headache, my neck and shoulder hurts from holding him so much (he’s a chunk), my throat hurts (no idea why this seems to happen when I am really tired) and I am a little shaky. I have this vague sense of anxiety that always accompanies being tired for me, I am not sure why this is present either. I may even be having slight attitude problems.

My mind wants to tell me that this is bad, that I need this and I need that, but it’s an illusion. My awareness is untouched, and everything is fine. No matter how I feel, at least I am here to feel something. We take existing for granted for some reason, and it leads us to think that we actually get to judge the contents of existence. I am grateful to be here to experience anything, and that makes all of this unpleasantness fade into the scenery where it belongs.

This applies to everything for me. All the hassles of raising kids, all the time and effort and money and sleeplessness is part of the scenery, and it is part of the scenery involved in helping another human being learn to live on this planet, which is a pretty cool job. We all have scenery; we get to decide whether or not to judge it.

What happens when we can step back from the stories about experience, and simply allow ourselves to be aware of experience itself? How is our judgment of experience serving us?