Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Living in the present

This is a tough thing to do. At least on a regular basis. I tend to go through phases of living in the moment and then circumstances and stresses distract me from the present and get me mired in the past or floating in the unknown nebulous-ness of the future.

For the last few weeks, I have been gradually slipping out of the present and either dwelling on the past that I wish were my present or stressing about the future. Worrying about either one is as effective as trying to nail jello to a wall. The past is gone. The future is not certain. Neither one should be consuming my energy and attention. Yet as my time here in Georgia winds down, the more steadily my focus turns to the unknowns -- where will I go next? What will I do? Where will I work? Where will I live? How will I pay for moving to where I get a job? Will I get a job? How can I buy a car with no job? I (stupidly) left almost everything I had when I left Pennsylvania -- how will I afford to buy what I need -- I don't even have a towel or pillow of my own anymore. Most of my money got sucked up trying to move to Canada, and what is left belongs to the IRS..... And on and on and on go my worries, spiraling out of control.

I was talking with my friend, Katherine today, and she said something very poignant. She stated that there is nothing like a crisis to bring one back to the present. When she said that, the words bounced around in my brain like a pinball machine, hitting on nerves, sparking on gray matter, lighting up synapses, and finally coming to rest in a spot where I would remember what she had said after I hung up the phone. (Often my brain acts like a sieve, leaking out too much of what I really want to remember). This thought I filed away under the heading, "Important! Don't forget." I thought about it for the rest of the day.

My mini-crisis, this minor catastrophe that is really only an inconvenience in the grand scheme of things -- namely the teeth-marks in my calf -- has refocused me on the present. Can I change anything by worrying about it? No. Will my stressing about the future give me any more control over it? No. I know these things, but I so often forget that they are true.

The remainder of the day, I practiced living in the moment. I enjoyed everything that I did -- drinking tea with Tea -- writing out some ideas for class activities -- reading Kerouac's On the Road (a crazy, frenetic read, by the way) -- sweeping the rug in the sitting room -- stoking the fire in the stove -- kneading bread dough -- watching Casablanca with Tea -- talking with "Our Grandmother" -- watching the crazy weather change from rain to hail to sun. Everything means so much more when all my attention is focused on the moment at hand.

As I pulled up a bucket of water from the well tonight, I noticed that the clouds that had hung in the sky for days finally moved off to hang over someone else. The sky was clear and the stars were bright. I'd almost forgotten that they were up there. Orion, Cassiopeia, Ursa Major and Minor greeted me as I watched my breath evaporate in the chilled air. I breathed it in and thanked my God in heaven for that moment.

1 comment:

  1. Steph,
    A friend of mine once asked me, "Danielle, do you ever feel like you are missing what is actually happening when you are taking pictures?" That comment hit me hard and I filed it away as you did! Since then, I have committed myself to living in the moment. I realized I didn't want to miss life, God's beauty, or an opportunity to love someone. It made me so much more aware of what was around me. I also realized life definitely can be hard, but that I should strive and hope for what is beautiful and good rather than leaning on the pain. We need people to hold on to that! I will keep you in my prayers Steph, cause "God knows" we all need them and others support. I'm happy for you and the opportunity you have in Georgia! :)
    God Bless, Danielle (Gallaher)