When I was old enough to aspire to become a teenager but still young enough to have no idea why, I delightedly spent a late spring watching tadpoles turn into frogs in a serendipitous puddle on the top of an above ground pool cover. This past spring, my husband, son, and I wandered in a nearby garden. I glanced down at a tiny pond as we walked past and saw – tadpoles! My husband caught one, and we all hesitantly touched it. Following that evening, we returned to the pond about every five days to check on the tadpoles’ progress, which, to my sometimes fast-paced world, felt painfully slow. But, they grew…first into just much larger tadpoles, then into swimming creatures with legs, and eventually into half-hopping, half-swimming tiny frogs with long tails.
The pond observation provided another parenting moment (of many) when I questioned my educational level. The first came when I had no idea what sound the animal made on page two of an infant animal book. At this particular moment I was quite certain my ten-year old self, who had never heard of the internet, could have better explained the metamorphosis of a tadpole into a frog to my son. Or, maybe I am just learning the difference between knowledge and wisdom, the latter of which I believe comes with realizing how much I don’t know, notice, or truly take time to see. I can describe in detail the home screen on my cell phone, but I am not sure I can tell you what color shirt my husband wore yesterday. I do not know the colors of this evening’s sunset or when it actually occurred. I cannot tell you the phase of the moon.
I looked at many things today and in the moment all those screens, emails, and newsfeeds seemed important. I feel embarrassed to consider how many times I look down every day to see if someone has texted me – each time thinking I can pause reality like a DVR. Life will just wait until I can give it my attention…in a few minutes…a few hours…a few days… I will find moments to spare until I am interrupted again by the siren call of technology in my pocket.
I deceive myself. Time and life do not pause, fast-forward, or rewind. Without the aid or technological interference of any device a tadpole turns into a frog whether I notice or not. Though failing to notice a tadpole probably will not greatly alter the course of my life, I have to wonder – what else do I miss? What do I not really see? Can I hear my son’s laughter in my head? Can I describe the exact shade of blue of my husband’s eyes? When I get to tomorrow, will I look back on today relishing beautiful moments that must surely have existed, or will I be too distracted still holding down my imagined pause button to even realize what I might have missed?