Tuesday, July 18, 2017

     Do you live in the present, past or future? Who knew that living in the present would be so difficult? I always thought I was living in the present, but at various times of difficulty in my life, I realized that I was spending a lot of time planning ahead, worrying about what would happen “if” or beating myself up for something that happened a month previous that I couldn’t change. In my many years on this planet, I have learned that living in the present is the best option, but sometimes the most challenging.

      Why am I writing about this? Because when a crisis occurs, all we have is the present. We don’t know what will happen “when” or “if;” all we have is what’s in front of us. We are forced to stay in the present in order to maintain equilibrium. 

     Things can happen so unexpectedly at any time in our lives. In the past couple of weeks, I have a friend who was diagnosed with a brain tumor. I have a friend who fell and broke her ankle. I have a friend who lost her brother to cancer. I have a friend who was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. This could happen to any one of us, including me. When these things happen, I have two issues:  what do I say to comfort them? and how can I help? Some are out of town. These pose larger challenges, but we are all a text, email or phone call away.

     When I am dealing with what feels like an insurmountable problem, I find myself hanging onto the present. I find my mind going to the “what ifs,” the “if only I had” of future and past. These thoughts are self-defeating, and I must force myself to stay in the present. I must be thankful for the minutes of peace, no pain, no decisions to be made in the next ten minutes. Does this work? Sometimes. 

     Why does it take a crisis to keep us in the present when that is really all we have? I don’t know? When I wake up every morning and make my “to do” list, I’m already in future mode. When I fill in my calendar squares, I am in future mode. When I do the “I wish I had” thing, I am in past mode. This is normal and human, I realize, but I need to focus more on the present.

      Think about what you do when you are so lost in that activity, you forget where you are. I experience this when I read a good book, watch a good movie, write a good blog. Can we sit in silence and stay in the moment? Maybe. Meditation helps, and it helps relax at the same time.

     Ok, so assuming I want to stay anchored in the present, I will begin right  now by letting the words flow. I will not worry whether this essay is profound or how it will be received. I will not compare it to yesterday’s or think about tomorrow’s. I will watch my fingers fly along the keys, and I will not let my mind go to future or past. Hmm. Not easy. 

     What do you do to stay in the present? Can we heal the present with the past or future? Hmm. I will think about this tomorrow.