Being Present is Where I Need to Be

I had a crappy morning yesterday.  So crappy I don’t even want to go into it right now, but the day got better and I owe a lot to Roxy for that improvement.

Later I realize that I turned the corner on the day once I focused on where I was and what I was doing, rather than on what had happened and what I wished I’d done about it.  As Roxy puts it, I felt the ground under my shoes and connected with the present, where I was and what was possible within that context.  I became present.

“The living moment is everything.” – D.H. Lawrence

The day improved in a remarkable way once I started being present in the moments as they came to me.  I focused outside my internal tailspin of emotional self-flagellation and got productive.  As added value, I received value and positive energy, and my outlook grew more and more positive.  I began to remember what I have to offer the people in my life, rather than how I’d failed them.

I proposed a way to give my wife the afternoon off, so she could do some shopping for her trip this weekend (going to EaWA for a wedding).  This also meant I could be home to greet my newly minted middle schooler with warm chocolate cookies (yes, sometimes the suburban butch dad can pull a June Cleaver) (oh, and the cookies were another great idea from Roxy, who knows a lot about making kids happy).

The whole afternoon I felt grounded and happy.  I felt like I was where I was supposed to be, doing what I should be doing.  That is a welcome relief from the more typical feeling that I’m not doing enough, always behind in some way, letting my family and loves down because I’m not doing enough.  Or another of my typical pastimes:  dwelling on past failings and forecasting all manner of disastrous outcomes as a result of them. In other words, doing the opposite of being present.  And it’s silly because if I take the time to sit and be present, I can see that dwelling on the past or worrying overmuch about the future is not productive, it doesn’t actually help me overcome the challenges that are piling up.  It’s also not a way to live, always looking back or forward and not getting the most out of the moment I am in, which is really the only moment I can actually experience.

“This moment is the moment of reality, of union, of truth. Nothing needs to be done to it or to you for this to be so. Nothing needs to be avoided, transcended, or found for it to be so.”
– Da Avabhasa

It occurs to me that I’ve only considered looking past and forward in a negative context.  Sometimes looking back is very pleasant, remembering times that I’ve enjoyed and not wanted to leave, namely time with Roxy.  Looking forward to the time I can be with Roxy again.  Those are very pleasant ways to spend time, and I won’t give them up, that’s for sure.  However, I shouldn’t live in the past or the future at the expense of the present.

“I never think of the future. It comes soon enough.” – Albert Einstein

“With the past, I have nothing to do; nor with the future. I live now.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Yesterday made a big impression on me.  The difference between how I felt in the morning vs. how I felt in the afternoon was more than night and day, it was like living different lives.  Clearly I need to spend more time being present, enjoying the moments I have with those I am with.  Living more fully in the present means living more fully and I certainly don’t want to give up any of the life I have allotted to me.

“If, before going to bed every night, you will tear a page from the calendar, and remark, ‘there goes another day of my life, never to return,’ you will become time conscious.” — A. B. Zu Tavern

 

(a quick search on ‘being present’ turned up these links:

ZenHabits.net: a simple guide to being present for the overworked and overwhelmed, now on my reading list for the near future.
presentliving.com:  what is being present?
tiny buddha: 5 lessons about being present, freedom is where my feet are.

… and there are a lot more where that came from.)

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4 Responses to Being Present is Where I Need to Be

  1. E says:

    Wow – what a great lesson – thank you for sharing…

  2. wolfegirl says:

    Thanks for this. I have fallen behind (ok, outright ignored) my practice of being present, and I have definitely felt the (negative) effects.

    Excellent reminder. Off to read your links + breathe. And rummage up some cookies for the little one for after school tomorrow. :)

  3. Roxy says:

    Having been there, I have to say that it really was a terrible morning, and I was so glad to be able to help, even a little. I love that my few words resonated so well with your day, and helped you find your way out of that dark tunnel into the light. :) I have a lot of trouble staying in the present myself, especially when one grumpy bad piles onto another. But talking with you last night was wonderful – you were so full of light and happiness it really was as if you had found a switch. Thanks so much for sharing it with all of us.

  4. Wendi says:

    Such an important lesson. Living in the past of the future makes us miss the present entirely. This is something I sometimes have to constantly remind myself of because of what I call my over active brain. It can take me to some very dark places if I allow it to, but staying in the present and enjoying the moments that are right in front of me keep me from going to those places.

    So, well done!

    By the way, the Zen Habits site is one I am subscribed to and there are all kinds of great posts about staying present.

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