Living in the present and accepting “what is” is not always easy especially when there are so many demands on our time and energy. Nevertheless, learning to focus on the present — without expectations — has been a worthy enterprise and it has made me happier.
Here is a case in point.
A Morning Walk
On most days — if not every day — my goal is to go on a long walk. Usually, I go with my eldest daughter or hubby. Often, I go alone.
It was a bright Friday morning, sunny, and on the nippy side for Southern Arizona. I was sitting on my living room floor donning my tennis shoes in preparation for my walk when one of my ten-year-old twins asked where I was going.
“I’m going for a walk.”
Upon hearing my answer, he looked downcast and then said:
“I want to go with you, but I also want to continue listening to Adventures in Odyssey.”
Our family has been listening to these radio theater stories for decades. It is fun to see the twins raptly listen to a broadcast their — now — married older brothers used to listen to at the same age.
I now had two choices: let his comment go and proceed to go on my walk or make an effort to accommodate him so that he could tag along.I decided to pursue the latter.
“We can take the iPod with us and papa’s (daddy’s) Bluetooth speakers.”
Hubby’s speakers are heavy duty and come with a strap for easy carrying. A phone call to hubs and a “yes” to our “may we borrow your speakers?” and we were on our way.
Usually, my walks are quiet and nourishing. Not this time.
A Chaotic Walk
This walk was anything but quiet.
First, there was the story we were listening to coming through the speaker I effortlessly carried on my back which was occasionally punctured with bursts of conversations and peals of laughter.
Then, there was the stone throwing, the dragging of a creosote branch in the dirt and afterward, the banging of this same branch onto a barbed wire fence.
Bang, bang bang.
Throw, throw, throw.
Talk, laugh, talk.
There was non-stop noise or jerky movements.
I wanted to take a deep breath and release an even more profound sigh.
No “me time” today.
Certainly, this walk was not the nourishing stroll I was used to and that I found so beneficial to my well-being — physically and emotionally.
An Attitude Adjustment
I decided to first take that deep cleansing and destressing breath, and then to quickly alter my attitude. I refocused my attention on the moment at hand rather than bemoan that this point in time wasn’t exactly living up to my expectations.
Incidentally, this was also the same time I felt the hand of one of my boys slip into mine.
“This is fun!” he exclaimed.
In this precise moment — for me — everything changed.
I have had plenty of pleasant, quiet walks, and I shall have many more — Lord willing. This particular Friday morning, I wouldn’t, and that was okay because this day was the day I was gifted. In a few short years, my boys will no longer wish to accompany me on my walks. Not much longer after that, they will grow into men and expand their wings to live their lives — as they should.
I have been down this road before, and I am keenly aware how quickly time flies by and how my children’s childhood years melt away like snow in Arizona.
Living in the Present
We are born, and then we die. All we possess is the time in between these two events, and its duration remains a mystery. Every day, every moment, every second is a gift.
This little hand in mine only happened because I said yes and thankfully, I was mindful to be present even if “this moment” wasn’t part of my original vision. As I have mentioned before, expectations are a joy killer and mine were strangling the “now” as surely as a constrictor chokes its prey.
All that was needed on my part was the conscious choice to see differently. This attitude change wasn’t hard although it had a cost. The price was that I wouldn’t have my quiet walk — that day. However, not saying yes to this moment also had its price, I wouldn’t enjoy my boys and their beautiful childish exuberance, their acceptance, and their unconditional love — on that day as well.
Living in the present is a marvelous and luscious way to spend each day. In an instant, I can change my focus and be grateful for little boy noises and energy as well as for a small grubby hand in mine.
While on that Friday morning, nothing had changed — there was still the constant narration of our story blaring from the speaker, the stone throwing, and the occasional burst of conversation and peal of laughter — everything had changed because I had readjusted my focal point. Or, should I say I had modified my mindset and accepted the “now” rather than bellyache for what wasn’t and never would be.
Living in the present is the only way to find peace, serenity, joy, and happiness. Incidentally, it is also the only way to truly live. So, live my friend, live!