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Today I was reminded of the importance of meditation. I’m not talking about surrounding myself with candles and clearing my mind and soul, I’m talking about just sitting, switching off, and existing, for even a minute. We can lose ourselves so easily in this busy world. It’s busy, noisy, opinionated and fast. And if we’re not careful, we can get swallowed by the wave of the rest of our lives, and miss the precious moments we are living right now. It’s this wave of frantic activity and distraction that I am beginning to have the sneaking suspicion is the cause of that thing old people warn us of: Regret.
I wouldn’t class myself as someone who is regretful – as a child I prided myself in not having any regrets, but only having lessons learned. I was either a wise kid, or the most pretentious arse in the playground (I wouldn’t discount either of those options). But recently I’ve found myself getting caught in the rapid wave we call life and ambition, getting hurled blindly through the sea toward some vague goal, surrounded by the bigged up achievements of others that I somehow feel I need to compete with. I haven’t realised until now how much I was actually drowning without noticing. I wasn’t seeing the wonderful scenery or Nemos around me, or enjoying the water massaging my skin along the way. I’ve just blindly been looking for the surface, and haven’t realised I’ve been running out of air. When all along, all I had to do, was enjoy the ride, make the most of it, and trust that I’d find the surface eventually.
As My Chemical Romance as that sounds, I don’t think I’m too alone in this feeling. I can’t be There are so many writers, and speakers, and people striving toward the one solution to this problem. The one thing that will stop me from getting a glimpse in hindsight and wondering painfully why I didn’t say that thing, or do that other thing, or notice that other thing back then. In the moment. What I’m eluding to is this idea of Presence.
Back in university I spent a good three years studying the principle of presence (the pretentious element of my personality garnered in pre-school has evidently survived middle school). It gives you gravitas, they said, weight. What I eventually learned was that it gave you life. When you’re in the moment, there’s nothing that can escape you, and nothing to worry you. When you fall out of the moment and don’t trust that gravity will bring you to the surface and give you the air you need to breath, you get bogged down, you feel dirty and gross inside, and your sight becomes foggy. The blinkers go up and you start to drown, not seeing any of the hands reaching out to you as you fall. This, my wonderful readers, is regret. Or at least where regret harbours.
And it’s so damn easy to not live in the moment! Or even in the very skin you live in! With the world at our fingertips, we can be with our family abroad, or part of the government debate, we can be in space, or fuzzing the fluffy little kittens on the internet. The one place that it’s hard to be is in our own body. Never mind the time or space that our body happens to have found itself in. And, saddest of them all, if we aren’t in our bodies, in the time and space we occupy, how can we be with the people we are around? How can we really BE with the things that matter most? Our lives. We’re so caught up in sprinting headlong toward our own goals, into heated internet debates, or into any place other than the one we are in now, that we miss the present. We miss the moments that give us the most joy. That give us the best memories. We’ll never remember that status Stacey wrote at 3.15 in the afternoon whilst we were having a late lunch with our loved ones. We’ll never remember the plans, or the worries about those plans, that we were focusing on instead of our kids when they ran out of school and excitedly told us about their day. We won’t remember any of that shit. Because that’s exactly what it is: Shit.
But one day, hopefully not when we’re old and can’t do anything about it, each and every one of us will have that moment where our head breaks out of the water for a second, and we’ll realise all the fun we could have had. You’ll realise that the story your kid is bringing up again after six years had an impact on them. And you‘ll have missed that impact.
What I’m trying to say, without the poetics or the verbosity, is that we need to give ourselves the time, patience and forgiveness to live entirely in the moment. If not all of the time, but at least once in a moment, a little more than now and again. Yes, make plans, action those plans and rejoice in the idea of that future, but don’t spend your life living a plan that isn’t happening instead of living the beautiful and magical reality that is your life. Because the saying is right; the most memorable and magical moments couldn’t have been written. So stop trying, and just be.
Jem, Last Minute Business
Any top tips for staying in the present? Any thoughts on listening to the article? Missed the link? https://soundcloud.com/user-164943907/you-couldnt-have-planned-that