Living in “the now” is a big challenge for many of us.
I love those year-end-review TV shows and newspaper articles. Even though I lived it, I always forget so much of what happened and I am informed for the first time about some of the important events of the previous twelve months. The list of well-known people who have died always elicits an emotional response from me. Humanity, not just their loved ones, has suffered a great loss. Sometimes, I check out their work to witness their unique contributions the rest of us get to enjoy.
What is the significance of endings and beginnings? Endings are a time for reflection, forgiveness of others and ourselves, thankfulness for wonderful memories, and discernment to formulate some guiding principles that were probably learned the hard way.
Our reflection of the past informs our aspirations for the future. Beginnings are all about the hope of the clean slate. But the slate is never clean. We always bring things with us, usually, unwittingly. Those traits will not be undone just because we turned a page on the calendar. But that doesn’t mean change is impossible, just that it is difficult.
Yet, we develop goals and plans that are usually unrealistic. We always fail at some point and have to re-evaluate. Some people feel like failures and give up on their goals. Others, re-evaluate, make the necessary adjustments, and move on with a little more wisdom mixed in with their optimism.
So much for stating the obvious about the past and the future.
What about now? I know there are great hordes of wise-ish people who have written about living in the now. In contrast, I write as an amateur, a wannabe proponent for for being wholly present in the moment. I have sucked at it for most of my life by being preoccupied about something in the past or the future. So, I was at least partially absent in present tense of life. Frequently, I didn’t enjoy it or soak it in as I could have. The same is true for my relationships. I wasn’t always totally there for you and with you. If you were one of the victims of my preoccupation, I am truly sorry for that.
Living in the now, like goal setting for the future, is not as easy as you might think. For me, the beginning point is reflection, prayer, and meditation. That’s how I think through things and process them. I try to be deadly honest with myself about what has happened, how I feel about it, and how I think God sees it and me.
I need to get the “living in the now” thing kick started by doing something that takes my mind to a different place, flooding it with something engaging and refreshing. That could be a good movie, an insightful documentary, article, or book, or it could be writing, playing or listening to music, a walk, or a workout. Basically, it is some type of a personal Sabbath in which I take a break from regular life to do something that refreshes me.
When I begin living in the now I am able to laugh louder, feel the pain of someone more deeply, enjoy even mundane tasks, and sing and dance like an idiot.
It is a good thing to be totally present in the present.