14. Living in the Moment
February 19 2015
This afternoon I discover a new swimming spot, right on my doorstep. I can’t believe I didn’t know this was here! It’s a glorious day, the water temperature is perfect, and there’s not a soul in sight. It’s peaceful and still. I could be on a deserted island. I float on my back and enjoy that blissful feeling of being held by the water. I feel unaccountably joyful. Ain’t life grand!
Do you remember back in blog post 12 when I said a similar thing: “I’m having times of nameless joy, as well as an ongoing sense of quiet contentment. How do I know this? I’m humming and singing around the house again. No reason, often no particular song, just repeatedly humming a little tune.”
LET’S PAUSE for a moment and take in what I just mentioned, almost in passing … these gentle moments of happiness for no particular reason are to be quietly celebrated in gratitude.
Along with this soulful peace … remember I was on my deserted island? … those other distracting thoughts keep returning. They’re not so strong now, but still insistent, ineffectually banging away with predictable regularity.
Today the mind is busy and varied. There’s a variation on the theme of ‘That heightened sensitivity stuff – nonsense. Just stay in the real world. It’s safe.’
Then there’s, “Your book will only sell fifty copies. It will just disappear into nothing.”
Taking a pessimistic view can feel like a kind of control – if I can imagine the worst-case scenario and mentally think that will happen, then I’m “comfortable”, I’ve got it all covered, I’m prepared for the worst that can happen. It’s simply another great strategy to avoid feeling what’s actually there. (more about the F-word later.)
And here’s another good distraction—future scenarios.
I had long ago mastered the art of past scenarios, repeatedly returning to painful or self-revealing moments and belting myself over the head with what a horrible person I was. Talk about self-flagellation! Refusing to forgive myself for what were, after all, only my unconscious acting-out behaviours. Gosh, I used to be so hard on myself! Because of a life-changing book, this mind-pattern of returning to past scenarios has now disappeared – kaput!
Back to these future scenarios—a great distraction as well. These were always laced with a good dose of fantasy. (I have a very active imagination, you understand.)
I used to indulge in this endlessly, up until a couple of years ago. These scenarios were either about my future, or often involved some form of care and concern; about my kids’ lives or what to do about any challenge they were experiencing, their kids, my family, any of my friends’ problems or illnesses, oh I could go on and on! None of this existed in reality, but that didn’t stop me. I think it’s euphemistically called ‘worry’. Perhaps if I could prepare myself for all the eventualities that might happen, I’d feel a sense of control. Yeah, right! All it did was make me feel overwhelmed and out of control, but again, avoiding what is actually here now. Worrying about others’ lives was a perfect way to run away from myself, and avoid sitting with my own life and feelings
What happened a couple of years ago?
It was a book that changed my life. Someone loaned me ‘The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle, and I immediately bought my own copy. In it he says, “People don’t realize that now is all there ever is; there is no past or future except as memory or anticipation in your mind.” https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6708.The_Power_of_Now
I have not been the same since.
In addition to that quote, there are many pages marked with the sticky notes that denote passages of great impact. After reading this powerful book, I literally dropped a lot of my scenario-making and past-re-enacting overnight, and began to be a keen observer of my thoughts.
I made a conscious decision to live in this moment.
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