At the time that I’m writing this blog, it’s the week of Thanksgiving. We’re heading into December, which brings us into winter, one of my favorite times of the year. Christmas is coming! Wow, wow, wow. Have three months of LEVN really gone by already? Time truly does pass in the blink of an eye.
It’s amazing to me how fast this experience is moving along. I feel like just yesterday I moved into our little yellow house, unpacked my suitcases, and ate my very first In-N-Out burger (which definitely did not disappoint). Where has the time gone? I often feel like I’m dreaming with my eyes open. Sometimes, it still doesn’t feel real to me that I’m living in California. It really doesn’t feel real when I think about the fact that I’m living here and not paying rent!
All joking aside, I really do feel overwhelmed sometimes by just how quickly time is passing. It doesn’t help when I spend much of my time physically being present here, but mentally flying away to any number of far off places. I take mental trips to the east coast to check in on my friends and family, imagining each little detail of their busy lives there. I take trips to next fall where I imagine I have a full time job, a cozy apartment, and a sweet puppy that my husband and I will have just adopted. I take trips to a Christmas ten years from now where I see my growing family decorating a tree inside a home that we own. Lately, I’ve been taking a lot of trips to my parent’s home in Florida on Thanksgiving…imagining the sound of the Macy’s Parade coming from the television and the smell of turkey, cranberry, and pumpkin pie drifting from the kitchen.
These trips are just day dreams of course, figments of my imagination. While they are beautiful and bring me much joy to think about, they happen far, far away and distract me from the many beautiful, joyful things that are happening all around me RIGHT NOW. Sometimes I imagine a little Lizzie McGuire like figure on my shoulder shouting into my ear, “Look! Over here, you dummy! You’re missing it!” While it’s wonderful to day dream and it’s great to think about your future, it’s not very helpful when it comes to the practice of being present and really savoring the moment that you’re in.
I don’t think any of us will ever truly master the practice of being present. I’d like to think that I’m not alone in struggling with it. We’re all human after all; however, I do think we can help each other with this struggle. My housemates and coworkers already help me with this without even realizing it. Just the other day, one of my coworkers and I were walking together when she pulled me out of my daydream, drawing my attention to a tree that is growing next to our office. “Look how beautiful this tree is!” she exclaimed with so much excitement in her voice, it was contagious. The tree was at the peak of its leaf-changing season. The leaves that used to be colored a mellow green had exploded into rich burgundies, sunset oranges, and candy apple reds. It was absolutely breathtaking. If she hadn’t drawn my attention to the tree, I would’ve continued on my merry way without even a glance up from the ground in front of me. She has no idea what a blessing it was to me that she decided to look up.
I’d like to leave you all with a few quotes (by people that are much more articulate than me) that are particularly meaningful to me as I work through this challenge of being present. I hope they are as inspirational to you as they are to me.
“The only time you ever have in which to learn anything or see anything or feel anything, or express any feeling or emotion, or respond to an event, or grow, or heal, is this moment, because this is the only moment any of us ever gets. You’re only here now; you’re only alive in this moment.” Jon Kabat-Zinn
“Living in the moment means letting go of the past and not waiting for the future. It means living your life consciously, aware that each moment you breathe is a gift.” Oprah Winfrey
“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land, there is no other life but this.” Henry David Thoreau
Lutheran Social Services of Northern California