This morning on my way to work I did what I always do on the way to work: I stared into the life of the person in the car behind me.
From my rearview mirror, I am granted a front-row seat at my most favourite theatre. Sometimes the unwilling actors are busy – smoking, putting on makeup, drinking coffee, idly checking their phones – but most times they’re just sitting there, staring intently on the road ahead…the road that I should also be watching.
Today, the act was particularly charming.
A mother with her baby in the front seat.
He was watching some show on the dashboard screen (if this all sounds ridiculously unsafe, I can assure you, it’s pretty commonplace in Japan).
You know that baby happy face? The one that babies make where you can’t help but smile? That’s the one he was making.
I could practically hear him singing along to whatever catchy tune was playing, and his arms and legs bounced up and down to the beat in the most precious rhythm.
I don’t know if it was the sight of that adorable baby boy, or his mother – who could not have been much older than me – but my mind immediately flooded with the sentiment “I wish…”.
I wish I knew what that felt like.
I wish I were her.
I wish he were mine.
But then, almost just as quickly, a voice – I’d like to think it was my guardian angel – said to me:
He is yours.
You take care of him by making sure you drive safely and pay attention when you’re driving on the road.
(My eyes immediately shifted to in front of me.)
You give to him by being conscious of the environment you create in his world with your thoughts and actions.
You look out for him by living mindfully and protecting the planet that he will have no choice but to live on.
And you love him by loving yourself fiercely and unapologetically. Because love is love.
And – for a few more moments – I felt pure, boundless joy, as I glanced back at this baby in the rearview mirror, who I would never see again, and who was my own.
And then, his mother switched lanes, and sped past me on the highway.