Something I forget a lot, and have to remind myself about a lot: I’m not on my way somewhere.
This moment isn’t just a stepping stone to get to another place. It’s the destination. I’m already here.
I’m not on my way to a more important moment. This current moment is the most important moment.
This might be obvious to some of you, but I forget a lot. It’s not usually obvious until I remind myself. And even then, it takes some convincing, because I have a tendency to discount this moment and think the important ones are coming up soon.
Let’s quickly look at a few examples:
• You’re in traffic, quite literally on your way to another destination. You’re in a rush to get somewhere else. But this moment, sitting in traffic, frustrated, is not less than any other moment in your life. It’s full of sounds, sights, textures, emotions, other people, the ability to be present and appreciate life, the ability to learn patience and how to deal with struggle, the opportunity to practice coming back to the present. These, and many other things present in the current moment, are incredibly important.
• You’re walking to a meeting. You’re almost at somewhere important! But right now, this walk down a hallway, is just as important. If you don’t pay attention, you’ll miss it. It’s an opportunity to practice, to appreciate, to find gratitude, to breathe, to give yourself space before the rush of the meeting, to deal with the emotions you’re feeling.
• Someone interrupts you while you’re doing something important. How dare they! Don’t they know you’re doing something important, and now you’re disrupted? But this moment of noticing your frustration, this opportunity to bring your presence to this other person, this opportunity to appreciate this other person and be curious about them … these are also super important.
• You’re showering, washing dishes, getting dressed, getting your keys to go to your car … these are times of rushing to the next thing. They are also destinations in themselves, if you pay attention. They’re spaces between, times to practice, times to notice, mini meditations.
Each moment rushes by, because we’re on our way somewhere else. They rush by, rush by, and whoosh are gone. We don’t notice them, because they’re unimportant. Our lives become a huge pile of unnoticed unimportant moments on our way to more important things. The important things also get tossed on the same pile, until we’re left wondering where it all went.
Each moment is like the dew on grass, fragile, ready to evaporate, precious. Let’s not waste each dewlike moment with neglect.
A Healthy Way to Aspire to a Better Life
You might be unhappy with your life — being in debt, lonely, with a job you doesn’t like, in a town you doesn’t like.
And when asked what ideals you have about life that your current life isn’t meeting, you might reflect for awhile, and say you want to find work that you’re passionate about and have friends who care about you.
I agreed that those are great things to aspire to … but that you might try finding things about yourself and his your that you appreciate. You might try accepting the reality and finding the goodness in the present, rather than comparing your present life to your ideal life and finding it wanting.
The comparison, the ideals, are causing you dissatisfaction. The reality isn’t so bad if we let go of the ideals and just see the present moment as it is. It’s been my experience that when I look at any moment, even uncomfortable ones, I find that there is a lot to be curious about, a lot to appreciate, a lot to discover and love.
The question that should be running on your mind is whether you should give up all your aspirations. Which is a great question! But no, I’m not suggesting you give up your ambitions and aspirations. It’s only difficult when we attach too tightly to them, and then we can become unhappy with the present.
What I’m suggesting is a loosening of attachment to these ideals, a turning to the present to appreciate it and get to know what’s in front of us better. Once you do this, and accept what’s in front of you, you reach a place of peace.
Here’s the key: from this place of peace, you can then take action towards your aspirations … you can find your passionate work, not because you’re so dissatisfied with your current life, but from a place of acceptance with your current life and a desire to do something good for yourself.
Either way, you take action towards your aspiration, but it can be either from a place of dissatisfaction (and wanting to change something crappy) … or a place of acceptance and peace, and wanting to do something good for yourself (or others).
Here’s the method in summary:
1. Notice your dissatisfaction.
2. Notice your ideals that you’re holding tightly to.
3. Loosen your hold on these ideals, and turn to the present moment.
4. Really see the present moment with curiosity, find something to appreciate.
5. Accept the present moment completely, with love.
6. From this place of peace, respond, take action. It might be toward an aspiration, or not, but it’s a response from a good place.
This method takes a lot of practice, and I’m still not very good at it. I enjoy the practice, though.