I’ve been trying to practice staying in the moment. And that’s the problem.
I know how vital it is to remain present, to focus on the very moment we’re in. So that is what I have been focusing on doing. Making sure I stay firmly cemented in the present. To be honest it’s like trying to grip a bar of soap… as soon as you hold tightly onto the bar it pops out of your hand. The tighter you make your grip the more force it flies out with.
For some reason it was a lot of work. That’s not to mean the same as being a challenge to do. It means it felt strenuous, it felt like I was trying to steady my aim in a windstorm, the windstorm being my thoughts. Thoughts of the story I’m working on, thoughts of projects pending for work, thoughts of personal projects for my personal growth, thoughts of things I want to tell people, thoughts of things that amuse me. I sit in my little house in the twister holding my little dog watching these thoughts pass my window. Then I see the Wicked Witch of the Was cackle and I realize she is laughing at my Shiny Metal Object Disorder.
When I slap myself in the face to snap out of it and bring myself back to the present, I try to chain myself to the jersey barrier that is the present. Even as I take note of the gulls singing their melancholy songs from atop streetlights and the evergreens do their silly bop in the breeze, I still feel the pull of the imagination, knocking on the door of my attention and asking me if I can come out and play. I crack the window, lean out and say, “I can’t. I have to stay in the moment.”
But something has been bothering me. I feel like I keep wearing the wrong outfit to this dance with the moment. Why am I grounded from going to the playground of my imagination? I’m being a good boy. And I scold myself for slipping away from where the nanny said I have to wait… she told me I have to wait here in the moment.
It was that scolding voice that shook me loose. It was not the voice of the nanny, it was the voice of my own personal critic, the nemesis of my own personal minister. The critic was telling me what I was supposed to do and how I was supposed to do it and how I wasn’t doing it right…
So I took a moment to examine what the function was in staying in the present. After all, part of the problem is when we criticize ourselves in lieu of accepting ourselves for who we are, right? And that was the crux for me. The past and the future are often places we go for refuge. When we are uncomfortable in the present we go into the nostalgia of the past or the fantasy of the future and ask to be granted asylum. Or we constantly return to the scene of the crime in our past to participate in a nice session of self-flagellation or we take the time machine of our mind into the future where we can hopefully rectify a stressful upcoming event by incessantly dwelling on it. Meanwhile the lampost gulls and the dancing maples frantically wave and squawk to get our attention, saying “Right here! Right here!”
As for the playground of the imagination? When its during a walk where the simple breeze of the day accompanies my stroll, or I’m waiting for the computer to finish a lengthy update, I’m allowed to go out and play. As long as I invite the moment to come play with me, as long as I allow the present to be a chaperone and I’m aware of its presence, then all is well.