I've heard discussion in the last couple of years about being present. I've pondered this saying and read some opinions about exactly what this means. My youngest daughter uses this term and I believe, from what I can tell, she tries to live her life following the philosophy behind it.
Being fully present, it seems, is the practice of -- well, just what it says -- being present. Focusing on you instead of me. Listening instead of talking. Completing the immediate task without distraction. It means being fully immersed in what you're doing and what is happening right now, at this very moment in time. This is not an easy way to live because we mostly have learned the art of distraction more than the art of being present. The only way I can see of achieving this lofty objective is to practice thinking less about the past and its failures as well as the future with its hopes and dreams. There is nothing wrong with having memory of the past. We need to remember the past. The past stays in our minds with its good memories for the sake of posterity and mistakes are remembered so that hopefully we will not make the same ones again and, better yet, will learn a lesson from those mistakes that will many times improve our future if we let them. The future as well is something that we absolutely have to consider. If we could not dream and hope for the future, we would live in a constant state of wondering what will tomorrow hold? We would always think I have no idea whatsoever of what to expect in my future, and that would be a scary place to be. Even though we don't know exactly what each day will bring, we have a good idea of what will hopefully occur through our planning and our dreaming. Dreaming about goals and improvements for the future is what makes life joyful and anticipatory. If there is nothing to anticipate, our hope is zapped for seeing something better or for needed change or improvement. There has been research to show that planning something for the future brings as much joy as doing it once it gets here. This is how dreams are fulfilled, goals are met, and life happens.
But here's wherein the problem lies. Many times we are so focused on the past or so intent on the future that we miss what is right before our eyes and, by missing that, we fail to receive what the present has for us. Young moms look so forward to the day when their time and attention will be in less demand that they have days where they cannot focus on what their children are giving them in the moment...like pure, unconditional affection and absolute forgiveness; children do not hold grudges. When we think too far into the future, we will come to the end of our day and realize there is nothing to show for it but frustration and discontent. Another woman is working so hard to move up the ladder of success that she no longer appreciates the hard-earned achievements she is enjoying right now. How many married women are out there who are so absorbed on the romance they feel lacking in their marriage that they are unable to see the faithfulness of a man who day in and day out goes to work and sacrifices every bit as much for the family; a dedicated, hard-working man isn't easy to find. It is difficult sometimes to fully focus on the mundane tasks of a life of dirty dishes, laundry, meal prepration, and paying bills, but even these things have benefits to offer and lessons to be learned. In short, being fully present means being content at where you are and in what you are doing at this very moment at this particular time in your life, and to give others that very same grace when you are with them.
I am a good example of not always living in the present. Those who know me know I love to travel. When I plan a trip somewhere, I am totally focused on where I'm going, how I'm going to get there, funding the trip, and what I'll do once there. Those thoughts and hopes and goals keep my world revolving and I am fully content when I have a trip planned. That's how much I love to travel. But sometimes my budget, my circumstances, or my commitments will demand that I change my plans and I become disappointed to the point that I can no longer concentrate on what the present holds, but what I'm gonna miss in the future. It's a sad place to be indeed. Disappointment has always been a hard pill for me to swallow.
But like many things in life, I am learning in these "latter years" to accept the here and now, to make the best of the here and now, and to live that philosophy of being fully in the present, so that I will not miss what is before me right now. How many times have we wanted to do something so badly that we MADE it happen, only to regret it later and wish we had listened more to that inner voice saying wait...not now...give it more time...be more prepared. How many times have we conversed with someone only to realize we were so preoccupied on what we were gonna say next that we didn't even hear what our friend was saying. I have, regretfully, done that many times. We owe those all around us the respect to be fully present when we are with them, to listen intently to what they are saying and receive everything they have to say as something of great value and worthy of our full attention.
And we owe it to ourselves to be fully there in the moment we have been given, this very moment at this very time in our lives...to learn from it, appreciate it no matter how humble, and to soak in all the lessons that the present has to teach us.
Posted by CC
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