I was driving my kids to school this morning, when I started to feel that familiar feeling creep in around 7:50 am. That inner electricity, that sense of pressure in my head, starting to escalate into restlessness. I needed to get to school so that I could get to the fourth grade meeting so that I could get to work so that I could get back to school to pick them up so that I could get back home for piano and homework and dinner and bills so that I could get the kids to bed so that I could get to bed so that I could wake up in time to get them ready to drop them off tomorrow. I could feel the rush into the future as the clock turned to 7:51.
How was I ever going to do it all?
Then at 7:52, it struck me. Did I even know that there would be a tomorrow? I assumed there would be, but how could I know for sure that was true? And why was I skidding ahead of today’s drive in order to prepare for tomorrow’s imaginary one?
In truth, there was no place more important for me to be at 7:52, than in the car, driving my kids to school. For that moment, that was my life. I was with my children, in the midst of an opportunity to connect and be present with them, even if they were reading and I was driving and singing along to the radio. After all, spending time with them is a core priority for me.
But the second I start accelerating into every other place I need to be, or could be, then, ten minutes from now, and all the rest of the day, is the second I start to lose grip on the moment that I am living. The second I start thinking about the imaginary future is the second I lose the beauty of this ordinary moment, this very real moment.
And yes, it is an ordinary moment, one I repeat multiple times per day, day in and day out, every day of the year. Driving them from here to there can be tiring and tedious. Yet, even in the midst of my exhaustion, and my unconscious wandering into my to do list, I realize that these routine moments are the ones I will miss the most. These are the times I will look back on and wish for one day, when the back seat of my car is empty and clean and quiet.
So 7:52 am was a much needed reminder, that in the midst of our frantic lives, if we can slow down and tune in, we might all of a sudden realize that the entirety of our being, our living, is manifesting. We are presented with endless opportunities to allow each minute to be the only minute that matters, the one that is most important to experience fully, no matter how basic it may seem.
In fact, the birthdays and graduations and weddings are few and far between. Most of life is what happens during all of the other waking moments of our days. Do we really want to miss all of that?
Yet we are so used to living life with a state of partial attention. In the process, much of life is lost without our intentional decision to lose it. Opportunities for connection. Opportunities for growth. Opportunities for love and laughter and sadness and tears and boredom and the entire spectrum of human experience.
And so we simply do the only thing we can do–practice. Practice being here, all here, fully here, now. Right now. Practice taking it in, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Feel your breath. Feel your body in space and time. Use your senses to engage with the vibrancy of life, without judgment or critique. Simply pay attention to all of it, with intention.
As I type these words, I too am fighting my tendency to drift off into self criticism and disconnection. So I remind myself, as the day has come to an end at 10:14 pm, to notice. I feel my fingers typing. I feel my breath move in and out of my lungs. I feel my full belly. I feel my body tired, but sitting comfortably on a firm bed, under a pile of blankets, my back against several pillows. Our puppy sleeps at my feet, and two bulldogs snore on the floor as usual. I hear the sound of the shower in the background. I hear the sound of silence upstairs, the sound of two children sleeping. I notice the roof over my head.
There really isn’t anything more important than being a part of it all right now, and letting it all be a part of me. It will lasts as long as it lasts, until it all of a sudden doesn’t. But for now, I am here. And I am grateful.
So today and in the week ahead, I invite you to join me in noticing when you might be living in a state of partial attention, thinking into the past or future, or feeling that pressing need to be somewhere else. Is it true that what is calling your attention is more important than where you are right now?
With gratitude, Monisha