Being Present

My fellow blogger, Cynthia at Flotsam of the Mind, presented a question to me and the rest of our blogging group this week. She asked what we would say in two words if we could write a note to our younger selves. After Cynthia asked this question I had about a hundred answers run through my head. I guess I have a lot to say to my younger self.

But while listening to a friend at my weekly book group today, I heard her speak the two words that summed up all my sentiments into one message:

BE PRESENT

Yes, be present. That is the message my younger self most needed to hear. 

The girl who couldn’t wait to graduate from high school so she could move on to something better. The young woman who rushed through college in three years so she could get on with the rest of her life. The soul who was always looking ahead and straining and striving for the next thing that was just ahead and out of reach. If I could send any encouragement back in time, it would be to quit squinting ahead to the horizon and look down at what is below your two feet right now.

That summer you spent sleeping on the mountaintop and guiding children through week after week of camp? Be present in it! Soak it up to the full. There will likely be no other time that you get to lie in a meadow night after night watching the fireflies dance to guitar music. And that night that the meteor shower rained down upon you? Let your dear brain stop worrying for a while about what you are to be one day in the future and just rejoice in the wonder and beauty of these bits of the cosmos streaking before you right now.

As I look back upon my life, it astounds as saddens me that I spent so many of my most wonder-filled moments worrying whether something either was or was not to be. Did I really spend most of a trip to London worrying about the future of my job? Did I honestly spend hour upon hour of a trip to Greece worrying about whether we would ever conceive a child or not? How did it never occur to me that if we did have a child I would probably never be able to lounge on a island with my lover looking out at the Aegean sea again? That maybe I should enjoy this time as precious whether it ever led to the creation of a child or not?

be present now

be present now

the good thing about a small, tight path is it makes you focus on what is right before you instead of looking ahead

But I would encourage myself not only to be present in the near magical moments, but even the boring every day goodness. Enjoy watching Alias on Sunday nights piled around the living room with friends. Pay attention to that golden Savannah marsh as you loop round the city. Go ahead and be there for the stuck-in-traffic-again moments. Just be present for it all.

Be present even in the sad times. Be present even the hard times. For they all matter. And for better or worse they are where you actually are. 

 

However, we all know that we cannot go back and give our younger selves a message, even if it is short and sweet. I guess I’ll have to do the next best thing and send that note to the Dena who lives in the current day. I’ll remind her to get out of her half racy/half dreamy head and actually look at what is around her. To listen to those who are with her.

Stop thinking about what I will do next month or next year. Cease worrying what if this happens, what if that doesn’t, what if, what if, what if?

For there are still some magical moments that happen even now. Moments where the sunrise turns the sky a hundred colors while I wake and start my day. Moments when the stars shimmer to the rhythm of a thousand Cicadas while I take my evening stroll.

And then there are the jillion every day good moments to savor. The raucous laughter of my daughter. The mischievous twinkle in my son’s eye. The sound of my dog’s soft snuffles and snores as I drift into sleep. The smell of my husband when we hug him home at night.

If you are like me and tend to be anywhere but where you actually are, I invite you to receive these words as well.

be present now

 

For more thoughts on the prompt, ‘What two words message would you give to your younger self” visit Flotsam of the Mind and click on the links.

To share your two word message to yourself, scroll to the comments below. 

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5 thoughts on “Being Present

  1. For years I lamented the quickness with which my own children’s childhood passed. I stayed home for nine years to raise them before they went to school. I wanted to be the one to influence their self image and to share so many moments with them. After they were grown and gone, I would tell God how much I wished I could have them back again. God answered that prayer with two grandsons for whom I do about half of the caring and raising, while parents work.

    Before my grandchildren came I read a book by Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance, A Daybook of Comfort and Joy. She taught me much about enjoying the little simple things each day of my life.

    I love your pictures of Greece, would love to go. I was not at Yoga Tuesday – had a mammogram. Won’t be there Thursday either. : ( Yoga not the same as with class and teacher.

  2. That is great advice. I think I could use that admonition more now than I ever did when I was younger.

    • So true, Lisa. I’ve been re-reading Barbara Brown Taylor’s Altar in the World and this passage keeps running through my head about choosing to be right where we are, since that is the only place we can actually be. It was so revolutionary to me when I first read it. Yeah, I might as well quit hoping to be in other places and just go with where my feet are currently standing. Makes perfect sense when someone else says it, right?

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