Being present is nothing new. I remember “living in the moment, man” in the 70s. It was easy then, I was a kid and all that mattered was NOW! Yesterday was gone, tomorrow hadn’t happened and all I knew was today. I had no responsibilities, I dreamed of flying and fairies and toadstools. It was AWESOME! Yep, my early childhood was pretty sweet and I was present for it.
Then a funny thing happened, and it happened pretty early. I grew up. I started to experience this thing called regret, then this other tingly feeling crept in – anticipation. Ooh, the force was strong in those two! The longer I dwelt on regret and rejoiced in anticipation (or was that the other way around?) the less satisfying the present became. I’m quite certain I spent my teenage years mastering the art of soothsaying. I was a marvel when it came to seeing where I’d come from and looking to where I was headed and man, I was headed to that magical place of anywhere but here!
Being present doesn’t always come easy and I don’t think it’s supposed to. I thought I was a pretty “present-kind-a-gal” in my 20s. Man, was I wrong. I didn’t stop and look in the mirror until I hit 30 and it was a bloody shock when I did. I’d spent my whole adult life surrounded by smoke and mirrors and when I turned one to face me – I was looking at a charlatan. Oh, I was present in that moment. I tell you what, though…looking into your shadows, seeing the person who sits there and loving her too makes those shadows not so dark. Let’s face it, none of us are all sweetness and light. A few of us know who we are in our darkest corners and even fewer still will admit to it, let alone embrace it. If you really want to be present, start with yourself.
Here’s a little of what I’ve learned from making a million mistakes.
- Being present is bigger than being there.
- Being present with yourself requires you to be comfortable within yourself.
- Being present means you need to ignore regret and forget about anticipation. Just for a little while, they’ll still be there when you’re finished being present.
- Being present is not always possible, it’s a matter of priorities. It’s something we have to consciously decide to do because being fully present in one moment means you are absent from another.
- Being present is quiet work – don’t be a wanker and announce it.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself – you can’t be present for everything!
These days, being present is all about my daughter. Am I present for everything in her life? No. I’m a Mum and a wife and a chauffeur and a cook and a dishwasher and a cleaner and a gardener and a teacher and a cheerleader and a lover and a daughter and OH YEAH…sometimes I take pretty pictures too! 😉 I try my best to be present when it counts, but what I excel at is making sure all the pieces of the crazy puzzle fit together so my daughter can be fully present in her life. She is completely present with herself and, at the age of 5, she has a greater understanding of self than I did at 35. So if I have to work that bit harder to help her find the right place for regret and anticipation (because they are an important part of life), then that’s what I’ll do. That and play “What’s the time Mr. Wolf?”
So am I present now? Sometimes….yes. Sometimes…well…
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