1.10.2012

Occupy the Present

Or in other words, live in the moment. I've struggled with this my whole life. Who hasn't? Transcendental poet and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson said:
  
"But man postpones or remembers; he does not live in the present, but with reverted eye laments the past, or, heedless of the riches that surround him, stands on tiptoe to foresee the future. He cannot be happy and strong until he, too, lives with nature in the present, above time."

But how to do this? I've found it helps to pause throughout the day and ask myself, "What do I like about this moment?" If I'm driving in the car, I might think, "I like that the roads are not icy. I like the song playing on the radio. I like that my baby isn't crying." Being present-moment oriented is empowering. Making dinner is more enjoyable when I'm fully engaged in the task--noticing the texture of the carrots I'm peeling, appreciating the smell of spices, regarding the way warm steam drifts up from a pot of bubbling water. 

When I vented to my counselor about how my baby always needed to be held and I couldn't get anything done, she pointed out that the beauty of children is that they force us to just be. Society has trained us to be busy and frantic and always doing, but our children can remind us to stop. To breathe. To be. 

"Being" doesn't fold the laundry, but it's more productive to enjoy the times when my baby's requiring my attention, than to squander them stressing about what I'm not accomplishing. Practicing being present is a worthwhile goal, considering living in the present is the only way to ensure life doesn't pass us by. 

Disclaimer:
Sometimes life dishes up moments that I don't want to be in, or enjoy, or relish. They are awful, or frustrating, or stressful and I just want them to pass. And they do. Eventually. Such moments are feats of endurance, and they strengthen our patience muscles (not sure exactly where those are located). Sometimes all you can do is hang in there are wait for the dawn, and that's okay too.