This Halloween, my son decided to be the solar system, so my husband and I decided to be NASA astronauts. Surely this family costume, one of our best, is a metaphor for our lives. Our child is the center of our universe while my husband and I, space pioneers, are floating and bumping our way through this crazy thing called parenting. Our tether: a community that supports and protects us, and friends and neighbors who share our values. Just as an astronaut appreciates her tether on every spacewalk, I am so grateful for this anchoring.
Belonging is a precious thing.
Here’s an example: The other day my son and I drove my husband to BART and we decided to head to the Pleasant Hill station rather than his regular Concord station, partly for the nostalgia (it was his go-to station for over four years) and partly for the extra few minutes it bought us, because every minute counts when our family is together. We left late and traffic was heavy. We hit every light along the way and so my husband missed his usual train, which meant he would be arriving to work 15 minutes late. About two hours later, when I was dropping my son off at school, I realized I forgot his backpack for the first time. We had to zip home and zoom back to school where he was one of the last friends walking through the door, when usually he starts the lineup. Our morning was full of flusters. What a way to start a day, right?
But here is the great part. I am so glad all those bumps happened along the way. If we hadn’t been late catching the train, we wouldn’t have seen the lattice crane silhouetted by a suddenly fog-shrouded sun at the Pleasant Hill BART station. “It looks like art,” my son said from the backseat. My son wouldn’t have been able to pull Daddy in, not once but twice, for big goodbye hugs, which I know sent my husband away with a warmth that carried him through the tough parts of his day. If I hadn’t forgotten my son’s backpack, I wouldn’t have seen Pleasant Hill Library’s Patrick Remer (most recently seen on the cover of your CoCo County Voter Information Guide) unloading his storytime gear in the parking lot of Valhalla Elementary School and I wouldn’t have gotten to share a hug and a laugh with him. I also would have missed passing the adorable caravan of Creative Play Center preschoolers on their way back from their pumpkin patch field trip to Mangini Farm–all those little red shirted kids crowded in wagons, pulled by blue-aproned co-opers. I even got a wave from their teacher who used to be our teacher, the amazing Ms. Danielle Newton. All of these happenings were lights in my heart and became records in my gratitude journal. Moments like these anchor me to the present, to my place and to my community, making me so happy to be exactly where I am. Here. With all this. Andy Puddicombe, co-founder of Headspace, calls what I feel Thisness. I am so grateful for my Thisness.
Thisness, according to Merriam Webster, is “the quality in a thing of being here and now or such as it is : the concrete objective reality of a thing.”
Autumn is a fine time to reflect on our Thisness. It is a time of deep emotion and raw tenderness. Pumpkin-everything season (which I am really into this year–hello, pumpkin cinnamon buns, pumpkin ravioli and sweet potato cereal) ushers in the gathering of friends and family to celebrate and offer thanks. It is the season of volunteers, drives and donations because it is a time when we all feel our most generous. And while it is a time of humble gratitude and giving, it is also one of outright joy, which we all deserve in our lives. There’s no such thing as too much joy.
So get out there and start enjoying each and every moment this season in our community. There’s so much to do. Start with a walk. Or a cup of coffee on the porch. Read through your Outlook and mark up your calendars. The City of Pleasant Hill hosts Off the Grid food events every Wednesday evening; Light Up The Night is Nov 28; and the City’s holiday festival is Dec 5. Support the Friends of the Pleasant Hill Library at their Giant Book Sale this Saturday, Nov 3. Meet animals from around the world at the Pleasant Hill Library on Nov 5; talk Anime on Nov 6; join Spy Camp on Nov 19 and 20; and make a gingerbread house on Dec 10 and 11. Or enjoy the regularly scheduled Lego Creators Club on Saturdays at 2, regular storytimes (every Wed, Thurs & Fri at 11:15 AM & Fri again at 1:15 PM), pajama yoga, beading sessions, playgroups, and book clubs. Yes, you can do all of those things AT THE LIBRARY. And a whole lot more. Seriously.
The point is, your community–our community–is also your tether to belonging. And our community’s institutions, like the City of Pleasant Hill and the Pleasant Hill Library are hard at work facilitating our connectedness, to events and to each other, year round.
All you have to do is show up and enjoy some Thisness.