My father was a putterer. I used to think that he wasted lots of time puttering, doing mindless things and that he spent an inordinate amount of time doing them. But now, I think that what he was actually doing was being mindful. Daddy lived life in the present moment and intentionally enjoyed simple things. Simple things like a nightly bowl of ice cream gave him great joy.
I don’t remember the exact sequence of events but I do remember that Daddy’s nightly bowl of ice cream WAS an event. I imagine that this mindful process started before dinner, with Daddy getting his bowl out of the cabinet and sitting it on the kitchen countertop. I imagine him glancing at that bowl sitting on the countertop during dinner. It’s not a furtive, anticipatory glance. It’s matter-of-fact. Yes, ice cream bowl, I see you sitting there on the countertop. You are not distracting me. I am enjoying my dinner.
After the dinner dishes are done, Daddy fills his bowl with 3, maybe 4 scoops of cheap vanilla ice cream. (My mom bought it by the 5-gallon buckets.) Next, he crumbles two homemade oatmeal raisin cookies over his ice cream, making sure the crumbles aren’t too big or too small. (Daddy was the only one in the family who liked oatmeal raisin cookies so my mom made them just for him to eat with his cheap vanilla ice cream.) After that, the bowl of ice cream goes into the freezer while he watches a TV show or two. When, in his mind, it is time, he gets that bowl of ice cream out of the freezer and microwaves it for the precise number of seconds it takes for the ice cream to get just melty enough. And then? Then, he mindfully eats his ice cream. Every. Single. Drop.
I learned lots of things from my father. Some lessons were easy to learn, like baiting a fish hook or doing a 3-point road turn. But sometimes, the lessons were rather obscure. I mean, really? What can you learn from watching your father’s nightly ice cream ritual?
Well, last week while visiting family, I realized that maybe you can learn to putter. Perhaps you can learn to be mindful. And…if you’re lucky, you can learn to be in the present moment.
We left FNR a week ago Friday and enjoyed an evening with Steve’s brother. Then, it was on to Raleigh to spend quality time with the kids, granddaughter and dogs. In Greensboro, we visited with my sister and brother-in-law before celebrating with my mom and stepdad in Burlington as they tied the knot.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am nowhere near as good at puttering as my father was, but since moving aboard FNR, I know I have gotten better. I know this because the pre-FNR me would worry and obsess about all the boat projects Steve and I weren’t getting done during the 10 days we were gone. I know this because instead of worrying and obsessing, I mindfully savored those 10 days. Every. Single. One.
Thanks to my Daddy I’m learning that life aboard FNR might, just might, be as good as a bowl of ice cream.