One of my favorite features on facebook is the “on this day” in history feature. You know–its the one that reminds you of what you posted on the same date in years gone by. Last week, I had a quote that I had posted last year show up and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. The quote is:
“I remind myself to ‘be where my feet are’ often. My mind tends to drift toward the future, sometimes planning or worrying about what lies ahead, missing the present. Being present is where life is the most rich and colorful. I’ve even found myself consciously feeling the soles of my feet on the ground to get myself there.” —-Artist, Cassandra Barney
It seems that lately I’ve been thinking a lot about being in the present. Part of that stems from simply having so many things that I want to do, learn, or need to get done. It is habitual for me to be thinking about the next thing or planning for what I need to do tomorrow. Part of the time I’m remembering things from the past–particularly mistakes or things I wish I had done differently. Often, I trade this convenience for being fully present in the now. Lately I’ve been rethinking all things related to how much time I spend in the past and in the future. There are benefits to both as long as the time is moderate and as long as they aren’t a replacement for being in the present.
There are circumstances in my life that bring this home and make it very real for me. I have a loved one who has dementia and I never know whether or not she will know who I am–which makes me know and understand the importance of being really present in the moment. We can be having a fabulous conversation–one where I think that it seems like two years ago when I was less aware of her memory lapses–and then suddenly she fades away and I’m left wishing that I had given her my full attention when she–the real her–was really there. Even when “the real her” isn’t there, it is so important for me to be present with her in the moment now. I don’t want to regret not taking advantage of these times together because I know they won’t last.
And this isn’t the only situation wherein I feel the urgency to be present. Fifteen months ago it seemed like things were moving along at a pretty good clip for me and my family. However, looking back over the past 15 months, I can see that they have been among the most trying of my life and the lives of my family members. We were just starting to see consistent memory and cognitive decline in the family member I mentioned earlier. Since that time, my youngest brother was diagnosed with and undergone treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, my uncle passed away, and the formerly mentioned family member underwent multiple surgeries for a hip replacement, throwing her declining memory off the cliff. It’s been a rough year. I’ve been so much more aware of how fleeting our lives our. The status quo can change at any time.
This afternoon I found myself sitting in my car, crying. I had just read the sweetest facebook post from my youngest brother to his wife wishing her a happy anniversary and explaining how he wouldn’t have been able to make it through the trials of this past year without her by his side. Even now, writing this, I’m crying–mostly because I haven’t really allowed myself to cry a whole lot over the past fifteen months. I was too concerned with getting to the next thing.I didn’t want to take time to really let it all sink in because I was afraid that once the flood gates were open I wouldn’t be able to get them closed again.
So even though it was uncomfortable and I felt a bit silly, I let myself sit there in that car in the parking terrace and sob for a few minutes. I allowed myself to just be there in the moment. With myself. With my grief. With my gratitude. And cry.
I’m glad I did. I’m hopeful that I will take advantage of opportunities I have to forget yesterday for a few minutes, not worry about tomorrow, put down my smart phone and just be with the people and the things that are with me in the here and now.