Against the cool morning air, birds sang and children pumped legs higher on playground swings. As I walked in to my son’s school, the adults who passed offered a warm, smiling “Good morning!”, whether we knew one another or not.

It is a good morning when people you don’t know offer you a smile and a hello. It is a good morning when you can open your eyes to sunlight and the sounds of nature and the world awakening all around you and whisper a little quick prayer of gratitude for being given another day.

At my son’s school, so many people wish each other a good morning – we hold the door for each other, we smile on the stairs, we give a nod and a gleaming eye to acknowledge the other person. It is a wonderful landscape on which to start the day.

And really, what’s to lose with a good morning wish to another human being?

It doesn’t matter that we don’t know one another. It is our version of namaste – I honor the sanctity in you and am glad to share this space.

selfie-imposed serious pose
selfie-imposed serious pose
When Mommy takes a photo, the smile comes out.
When Mommy takes a photo, the smile comes out.

On the drive to school, Shaya and I noticed burnt-out holes of buildings and long grasses grown in meadows that used to be teeming with urban energy and buildings. Detroit is a post-urban city, learning to find its nature and its way in a landscape not meant for this type of evolution.

He wore his DCFC cap, a birthday gift from a friend at last night’s birthday celebration. When I asked him to take a selfie with my phone so we could send it to his friend’s mother, to show how much he loves the new hat, he affected that tween I’m-so-cool don’t-mess-with-me urban-wannabe stance and got serious in his pose. No smile for the selfie, like his older sister with her peace fingers and pursed lips.

When I pointed it out, he said, “At least I didn’t do the duck face.” Well, maybe. We laughed over the seriousness of the selfie and this notion of preserving our every moment.

And for what? My daughter’s thousands of self-posed pictures never see the light of day. Will there be scrapbooks of selfies one day to return to, or are these moments that will vanish as they move on to new pastures?

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Waiting for the piñata to rain down candy, the kids scurried to fill their bags with sweetness.
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gluten-free cake, as rich as can be
The crowd singing happy birthday to my Shaya
The crowd singing happy birthday to my Shaya

Shaya’s birthday celebration was supposed to be a kayaking jaunt down the river and back up, with a barbecue dinner outdoors under a pavilion and birthday cake and singing among the trees. And then Michigan surprised us with a cold snap and 24 straight hours of rain.

No boating for the birthday. Instead, Plan B was 20-some third-graders, mostly boys, at our house, on a cold end-of-May Sunday with energy near to bursting inside the closed windows. They made bookmarks and then shot outside to release mounting energy. Then a piñata rained its candy all over the driveway.

The barbecue dinner was eaten inside, the kids watching Strange Magic in the basement while the adults talked in the living room, classical music at our backs.

regular cake, beautifully crafted
regular cake, beautifully crafted

We sang happy birthday in the packed dining room and cut a gluten-free cake and a regular cake and everyone loaded up on richness, basking in my boy’s ninth-birthday glow.

Birthdays are as wonderful as good morning greetings. One day every year, the focus is you and the fact that you are here – nothing more, nothing less.

For the act of being born, we forever celebrate one another’s presence – a gift to us all, this gift of life.

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