My Backseat Buddha

The illustrations are originals by @Paulcarlonillustration on Instagram.

My wife and I were chatting in the front seat of the SUV, the kids were in the back seat singing songs. We were driving through the glorious Californian sunshine, under endless blue skies, surrounded by palm trees. I was suggesting that everyone looks at this setting and thinks that living here must give you a perfect life. Yet, in reality, no one’s life is perfect.

A voice perked up from the back seat.

I didn’t really register what he said so I continued making my point.

“Err…excuse me Dad!”

My son said, a bit more forcefully.

“Yes son?”

“Actually…you know Dad….my life is perfect.”

It’s times like this that I’m struck by how much I love my son. How much I love his ability to snap you out of some pessimistically nihilistic hole and back to the things that are really important.

I love that he feels his life is perfect.

Admittedly, we were driving home from the Zoo and had just stopped for ice cream. Life did seem pretty perfect at that point.

So why is his life so perfect?

Well, for starters, he has next to no responsibilities, no financial concerns, and is told, repeatedly and daily, how much he is loved.

So, is his life perfect because he is oblivious to the stresses of real life?

Is ignorance (or perhaps innocence) truly bliss?

Actually, I don’t think that’s the case.

Sure, he doesn’t have the same job stress I do but he does have to dress himself every morning and I’ve seen him try to get his shoes on the correct feet, THATIS a stressful experience for us both!

He doesn’t have any financial responsibilities, but he is effected by mine. The recent increase in nursery fees has drastically effected his ice cream intake.

Granted, he is told he is loved everyday but even at 5 he’s growing tired of it and is already responding with “I know, I know, Daddy, you don’t have to hug me sooo much.” (I wonder how he’ll feel when he realises I’ve dedicated a blog to him and his sister?!)

Despite all this he happily declares his life to be perfect.

Perhaps he was declaring that his life was perfect, in that moment. Heaven knows there are times when he is claiming quite the contrary. But his blessing is that he lives his life in the moment.

If it took him three attempts to get his shoes on the right feet this morning, it doesn’t matter. He doesn’t carry that with him throughout the day.

One moment he can be upset by the lack of ice cream, the next moment ecstatic that I’ve let him have cheese sandwiches for dinner. He experiences the emotions for what they are, impermanent. Feeling fully the highs and the lows of a 5 year old’s daily existence.

So what can I, a 33 year old man, conscious of life and its imperfections, learn from this little 5 year old Backseat Buddha?

Well, maybe it’s to stop trying to put my life into some comparative context. Maybe it’s to observe the moment for what it is, try to think how am I feeling right now?

Sunshine, palm trees, wife in the driver’s seat, kids in the back, ticket receipts from the Zoo in my pocket and Ice cream on my jeans.

And so,

in THAT moment,

turns out my life was pretty perfect too.

The illustrations are originals by @Paulcarlonillustration on Instagram.

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