What I Learned, in a Closet, from My 3-Year Old Son

This is the moment! This one! Here! Now! Be present to it!

Mitch Ditkoff

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Jesse and me, 1997

One morning, 25 years ago, I found myself standing in my closet, madly searching for clean clothes in a last minute attempt to pack before yet another business trip, when I noticed my 3-year old son, Jesse, standing in the entrance. In one hand he held a small plastic wand, in the other, a plastic bottle of soapy water.

“Dada,” he said, looking up at me. “Do you have time to catch my bubbles?”

Time? Whoa! It stopped. And so did I. At that moment, it made absolutely no difference whether or not I caught my plane; I could barely catch my breath. The only thing that was happening in that moment was my son and the soulful look of longing in his eyes.

For the next five minutes, all we did was play — him blowing bubbles, me catching. His need was completely satisfied — his need for connection, his need for love, his need for knowing, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that his dada was there for him and everything was perfect just the way it was.

Jesse is 28 now, married and recently bought his own house. He works for Google. His bubbles are digital. But his deepest needs — and mine — are very much the same: love, connection, and enjoyment of the moment.

Jesse and me, 2019

SO WHAT? In these difficult days on planet Earth, it is clear to me, more than ever, that it is the small moments that count — the subtle opportunities we have every day to really BE there for each other. Simply put, the business of life is not a life of business. There is something going on beyond cash flow, work, and politics that is worthy of our attention.

Like love, for example. Like kindness. Like caring, fun, deep listening, and being totally present with the people in our lives — especially those who live under the same roof we are working so hard to make sure remains over their head.

Somehow, along the way, we have forgotten that earning a living is not the same thing as living— that the people counting on us for survival are more interested in our…

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Mitch Ditkoff

Co-Founder of Idea Champions, Face The Music & Sage Catalysts. Author of Storytelling for the Revolution, Storytelling at Work, Unspoken Word and Free the Genie