I had an epiphany in the mountains.
I wasn’t actively engaged in any spiritual journey (other than which we call life) when it happened.
I hadn’t been searching for this nugget of golden information, but just like that it hit me.
And I just so happened to be in the mountains at the time.
Talk about holy.
But, holy isn’t how I want to describe my epiphany, but rather I want to work more with the word nugget.
You see if there was one natural element that precipitated my epiphany, it wasn’t the mountains, the trees, or the birds, but rather a nugget of human faeces.
Yep, poop. Or, as the Spanish call it, caca.
Let’s all just be thankful I received the message without needing the nugget to get stuck on my shoe, or thrown in my face. Okay, well I’ll be thankful for that.
Otherwise, the only thing that would have transcended would’ve been ‘Holy shit’.
But, that’s not what happened. Praise.
Rather, I was in the mountains celebrating one of my Spanish family members’ birthdays; to celebrate turning eight, Sergio invited eight of his friends to the mountains for a party.
As soon as we arrived, I dubbed a mob of them the Slippery Seven – all the boys, one tomboy girl and another girl who was off running riot with friends of her own mind’s creation.
Slippery because you just couldn’t ever keep track of them. One minute they were here by the river, the next they were up on a hill behind you and you had no idea how that even happened.
Javier, the father of Sara and Sergio, told me we were allowed to lose two of the kids, more than that and questions would be asked.
I laughed at his joke, but couldn’t help thinking getting lost as a kid for a night in the Spanish mountains might be a rite of passage.
Such was the freedom with which they roamed and climbed trees, while the adults simply watched on, one of us willing them not to break a limb.
The remaining two kids were Sara, the daughter from my host family, and her best friend, Mariela.
I love them and their simple, elegant playing. It’s divine (and so much easier to track).
I did also love seeing the joy of the Slippery Seven as they tirelessly played.
Just how engrossed they were with whatever they were doing, their lack of fear at falling over as they barrelled down rocky hills and jumped over boulders.
And that’s when it hit me.
As I tried to track the Slippery Seven’s winding path, I realised why people say school is the best days of your life.
Here it is: it’s because you are present.
You are living life absolutely in the here and now.
There’s no concept of time other than ‘What class do you have now?’ or in the case of the Slippery Seven, ‘What’s going to entertain us now?’
There’s no projection into the future or looking back into the past.
It’s sheer bliss at whatever you are doing right now.
Or, sheer agony and tears when you fall down and scrape your knee.
But, it’s A-Okay. You know it’s all just temporary.
You fully feel your emotions and then they disappear and are replaced by the next emotion that floats into your being.
You find the river interesting and then this hill and then that rock.
You are eating and now you are playing and now we are cutting the cake.
And, it’s not busy. It just is.
You eat. Full stop. You play. Full stop.
You aren’t eating but thinking about how your school day was.
There’s no wondering where you should live because you are playing.
Who cares about what’s for dinner tonight, right now we are eating cake!
At least, I think that’s true of primary school children.
Perhaps the same theory is not as applicable to high school students, because it seems that’s where the pressure to suppress your emotions, or only have certain feelings or reactions to events originates.
This theory, this nugget of an epiphany I had, is definitely not applicable to most adults I know.
Presence as an adult is a luxury and should only be used sparingly.
I wish we could keep alive that absolute presence for longer.
I looked on longingly at the Slippery Seven as they let each other exist altogether but also separately as individuals.
You are you doing you and I am me doing me.
There was an acceptance. It was beautiful. It was magical.
And then I had a second epiphany in the mountains.
It happened after one of the boys approached the parents saying he needed to go to the bathroom.
“Pipi or caca?” Marisa asked and tissues were hastily sourced as he answered caca.
Nobody thought anything more of it other than to remind one of the girls that she might need to go to the toilet lest she pee or caca her pants (yet another pitfall of not being present to what you’re feeling).
But later as we piled into two cars, Marisa and I saw Javier carrying a boot over to the trees.
All he said was “Caca” and BAM, another epiphany.
Another reason why school is the best days of your life: people are literally taking care of your caca for you.
That boy who stood in his own caca didn’t have to worry about it. Someone else would.
I noticed it time and again throughout the afternoon.
The kids would simply approach an adult, who they clearly supposed had their caca together, and gave them their own caca to look after as well.
I think we’d all be lying if we didn’t say we missed that.
Being absolutely present and having someone take care of your caca.
(Primary) school really is the best days of your life.
Additional Educational Message: Unfortunately school isn’t the best days of the lives of 62 million girls around the world simply because they don’t have access to education. I’m trying to help change that. If you want to help me, you can donate to the cause at www.doitinadress.com/megan-stafford. There’s less than ONE WEEK left of the campaign. I’d love it if my team (that includes you, kind reader), could help a few more girls get educated in that time. Your gift will be one of presence and the relief of just being able to be a kid. Priceless.