You have probably noticed that I have a thing for quotes. I stumble across them everywhere, anywhere. Books, magazines, the internet, the spoken word or more, I cannot escape me.
In my mind, a quote is not simply attributable to famous or notable figures. The best quotes are those that cause you to stop what you are reading and ponder them. They speak to you. You connect with them, in some cases, for obvious reasons, and in others, for some inexplicable one. It returns to you again and again.
I happened upon this quote while reading a fiction book, “The Taking,” by the writer Dean Koontz. Fiction or no, it struck me as a reminder of both how to live our lives, and how not to do so. I hope that it holds a life lesson for you, too.
“The dance of life occurred not yesterday or tomorrow, but only here at the still point that was the present. This truth is simple, self-evident, but difficult to accept, for we sentimentalize the past and wallow in it, while we endure the moment and in every waking hour dream of the future.”
During this pandemic, Please keep you and your loved ones and family safe.
If you are like me, you have a love/hate relationship with surprises. While I love the idea of a thrilling surprise, I am also a very impatient and curious person, and ‘Let me see, let me see!” is my common refrain. I know that this is terrible, but when I was little, I used to surreptitiously open up my Christmas presents to see what was hidden inside. My mother never knew, until I told her as an adult. As I grew older, I grew out of this stage. However, my desire to know what hidden gem lay inside the package remained. Similarly, I used to approach life that way.
I thought that if I knew the future, I could avoid the mistakes, doubts, bad choices, hurts, regrettable decisions, and the inevitable feelings that go with them. In essence, my goal was to avoid the very things that lead to life lessons and wisdom. There is no doubt that there are things in my life that if I’d known the outcome of my actions, I would have chosen differently.
Fortunately, I’ve grown to appreciate the comfort of the unknown. It allows me to dwell in the present, the only moment of certainty. It also provides me the freedom to act without being hampered by the knowledge of the future. In reality, even if I were given a glimpse of the future and the likely outcome that goes based on my own present actions, we must remember, to weigh the fact that each of us is connected, and that the actions of others affect the outcome of our own future. The wonder of life is that it is unpredictable and subject to change, and if a single moment changes, it can greatly affect future outcomes. (Just thinking about it, makes my head hurt.)
One point that a Daily OM article makes is that “Looking back on your life, you would likely be hard pressed to say that anything in your past should not have happened.” Well, I disagree with some of this statement. Granted, it is true to a large extent. Nevertheless, after witnessing various outcomes caused by my actions, there are several choices that I would change post-haste. In my case, those that cause a unintentional fallout to others. Yet, facing my actions brings with it both a lesson and strength.
I sincerely doubt that I would be the person that I am today, blessed with all the people and things that I love, if I’d known what the future held for me. I believe that everything happens for a reason, and even though we do not see it immediately, we will come to realize it — when the time is right. Every person and thing, even those we consider unpleasant, are in our lives for a reason, and only by accepting and embracing them as integral to our journey, do we learn from them, and of their importance. Much like knowing the ending of a good book or movie, knowing “the big picture” robs us of the experience of living our lives as they should be — in the present.
This is what it feels like to rest “in the moment.” I am sitting on the beach surrounded by laughing strangers, seagulls soar above searching for their next meal. As I sit, I hear snippets of conversations that ride the wind to my ears. A constant breeze caresses my skin, and tempers the Texas heat as I lay watching my husband’s, seemingly, tiny head as his boogie board bobs to and fro far from shore. I sit without thoughts of cleaning, cooking, the mountain of clothes taunting me, or the morning’s dishes that await me in our temporary home for the weekend.
All too often, just “being” is a luxury that we cannot afford. Our go-go-go existence urges us to stay busy doing one thing, then another and another. Doing is our religion, and we kneel at its altar daily.
Our minds are inundated with thinking, an anathema to just being and dwelling in the moment. The groceries, picking the kids up from school, the upcoming school board meeting and tonight’s soccer game flood our minds. But, what if we make the conscious choice to embrace the art of being, the joy of being.
I intend to return home a changed woman. There is a stack of books beside my bed that have been there too long. I pass it each morning and night with barely a glance. I love to read but “doing” has taken a priority over such frivolousness. There is the bird feeder outside my bedroom window where the birds gather to eat and humor me with their antics. Watching them warms my heart, but again the “doing” draws me away.
Today, I issue my manifesto: I shall spend as much time “being” as “doing. ” I will listen to the symphony played by the breeze as it swirls through the wind chimes. I will revel in the sacred quiet of the early morning with my journal, pen and a cup of hot coffee in hand. Instead of the hustle and bustle of entertaining guests, I will sit with them, giving them the gift of my full attention as we truly connect. I will seek the mystery of the ordinary, because in it I am certain to experience the extraordinary. I will listen to my inner voice that resides in the place of being. All in all, I vow to slow down to breathe in the fullness of the everyday moment.
When was the last time that you allowed relaxation to overtake you as a state of mind? When was the last time that you stopped and been carried away by the heart stopping beauty of the moment? Can you remember? You think that you shouldn’t but, my dear, that is exactly why you should. No one is stopping you, but you.