Maryann Bucknum Brinley

167 Cooper Avenue
Upper Montclair, NJ 07043-1810

mabrinley@verizon.net

973-202-5909 (cell)
973-746-1608

Extraordinary at Ordinary

Searching for extraordinary science and understanding in the everyday ordinary of life

Magic in Mundane

Maryann Bucknum Brinley - Monday, April 13, 2015

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately with toddlers and preschoolers who are masters at making adults slow their inner, tyrannical clock-ticking and focus on the present moment. Being forced into this time-out zone is a gift. In fact, it’s the kind of gift I always promise to give myself but almost never do because I usually chase a to-do list and rush through my days aiming for productivity.


(Charlotte blending joyfully into a bed of white snow drop flowers on the "elephant" walk.)

In Brain Pickings Weekly’s recent edition (April 12, 2015), Maria Popova explores this modern nightmare “in which we’re mining every last frontier of sanity and stillness for the tiniest nugget of precious efficiency.” Popova writes that “even if we know that we habitually miss most of what is going on around us, we rarely break our busy gait on the hamster wheel of goal-chasing.” Spend a couple of days with a 4-year-old, a 2 ½-year-old and a 16-month-old and just see how inefficient but magical your day becomes.


(Finn discovering the exhilaration of swinging.)

On Saturday, I caught the “magic in the mundane” shadowing the youngest, Evie, in Anderson Park, Upper Montclair, NJ. With sun shining, grass growing and people galore picnicking, playing soccer and walking the paths, she was giddy with glee, running from stranger to stranger she greeted as new friends. Her big word right now is “Hi.” On my own, I would have been on a mission to hike around the park and head right back to finish up something or other. No fun. As it turned out, the ordinarily quick walk home took hours because Evie needed to explore every inch of the way. And in order to enjoy the journey myself, I had to suspend time. Popova says that “even something as simple as a walk can be, as Thoreau believed, ‘a sort of crusade,’ – but we get to choose whether to crusade for productivity or presence.”


(Evie is in love with being outside after the long winter inside.)

Check out Brain Pickings. You will love it. And read “Hurry Up and Wait: Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman’s Whimsical Children’s Book for Grown Ups about Presence in the Age of Productivity.”

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