I spent a fantastic day out with my kids today. We headed over to the college and made our way through the greenhouses. A great way to spend a icy cold morning. Wandering in the succulent room, checking out the tall palm and banana trees, keeping little hands out of the indoor ponds makes for a lively adventure.
One thing struck me as we moved among the greenery: the amazing amount of time and care that goes into establishing and maintaining this building and all the gardens. The basic building is old, and shows some of its age in a classic greenhouse style. Overgrown plants creep out from under tables, filling cracks and crannies of the brick walkways. Someone gives these plants the opportunity to grow, stretch and fill the space, providing water, food, climate, anything else they might need to thrive, all with the knowledge that years from now, others will benefit from all the work. This investment amazed me as I looked at all the lush vegetation.
My son, who just turned five, loved visiting the greenhouses. He marveled at the cacti, ran around the palm trees, touched the surface of cement surrounded pools. But his response to seeing the tall trees, the extensive root systems spreading through the soil, the dangling leaves high above our heads did not leave him in awe. His interest rested in the plants being there. We were in a place that before we arrived, to him, didn’t exist. It appeared as he needed it. I wonder if it would be gone from his mind as we left, or if some piece remained in his awareness. When we return someday, will he remember where the orchids grew?
At only 20 months, my daughter appeared less impressed with the building and the diverse life inside, and more with the wide wooden bench in the lobby she believed to be a table built for her. She happily walked among the plants, glancing high and low but without recognition of the special place we stood. Her world is always changing and everyplace is spectacular and new.
The moment is where she lives. Her existence is based upon the instant. She wants her bottle. She wants a book read to her. She wants to draw. When these needs are met, she is satisfied. When they are not, stand clear.
His take on life is different. He recognizes how special a moment is. He sees adventure activities as different from the normal daily routine. But these moments are available all the time around him. And right now, he is learning to see the need to put time into something to gain a reward. In time, he will gain the understanding of the time that goes into something increases its value to its creator. But some of the magical viewing of life passes with this understanding.
As an adult, we adjust to a life where reward comes in time. Waiting for a result is what we see in compensation for work. We know that working out now, will aid in our physical condition in time. Understanding that doing something now pays off in the end is a concept drilled into people as they grow up, but is this always a good thing? Does it take away some of the joy living in the moment provides for children?
I view the greenhouse as the culmination of all the work and effort put into it over the years. I see the careful plans put in place by generations of gardeners and caretakers. The attentiveness to the growth cycles, seasons, the variety of plants to create specific ecosystems impresses me. My kids walk in and see the wonder in front of them. Where it came from doesn’t register. It’s just there and they experience it.
I wonder what it takes to experience the moment again.