There are a fair number of people who already know (in their bones, as it were) that parenting is good for parents. These people are not high-ranking government officials, distinguished university professors or compulsive essay writers. As a result of events, circumstances, fate or any number of choices, large and small, that they have made, they can and do give lots of time and attention to their children. They are people whose primary occupation is parenting. From one perspective they—and perhaps their children as well from some perspectives?—have paid and continue to pay a tremendous price for their having gone into this line of work. Unless they are lucky inheritors, these people and their children may not have the social status or money of those who have gone down other paths. (And likely they are missing out on great artistic and intellectual experiences as well!) These people do not write magazine articles or essays or practice Buddhist meditation. Likely they have few hobbies, and such hobbies as they do have are not particularly challenging or awe-inspiring. They do not have stunning gardens or compete in triathlons or play in a quartet. But they may well be closer to living the lives that various experts and philosophizers, myself included, can’t stop talking about. I would not propose that these people are enlightened, but if it makes sense to speak of distances in this regard, I would say that these people may be closer to “knowing”—in their bones again—what enlightenment might involve.
The title of this essay and the image used above were inspired by a line from Walden: “What shall I learn of beans or beans of me? I cherish them, I hoe them, early and late I have an eye to them; and this is my day’s work.” To read the original and full text of this essay, click on What Shall I Learn of Parenting . . .