In The Moment

I relive pleasant and unpleasant past events, as well as daydream about the future.
When pleasant memories briefly float through my head, I feel wonderful. These are memories of events that have shaped my life. But when I dwell on them, I am no longer present.
I also lose my presence of mind when I dwell on unpleasant memories. I feel my whole body being taken over by a heaviness that inhibits my ability to act and a fog rolls in that darkens what I see and hear. When my kids are in an excited uproar about friends coming over, in my haze, I am unable to join them in their joy. Instead, I am irritated, and yell at them to tone it down.

I am equally out of balance when I fantasize about the future.* I wash the dishes and think about a planned bike ride with a friend. My children are fighting, and I cannot deal with it. I am preoccupied with my upcoming ride, and I am unable to help my own son and daughter reconcile their differences and needs without a dispute. I feel terrible, and tell myself I am a bad mother. I am caught up in my own world, instead of simply being present for my children.

 So I decided to make a conscious effort to stay in the moment more often this week. Why this particular week? Because this is the week, every year, when I leave a place that I love, Jackson Hole. Normally, as I leave the mountains in tears, driving back to Florida, I immediately start counting the days to my return. What kind of living is this? Am I only alive the 2 months I am in the Tetons? How, during the other 10 months of the year, am I existing?

I start my exercise...

The day of departure is here. The emotions I contend with as I leave the mountains are powerful, and I am not sure I can let them go. I refused to conjure up self-pity and sadness. Being in the present feels stronger than dwelling in the past, so I simply observe what is around me, and absorb the moment. I leave the Tetons with an open mind and heart, taking in the beauty and magic of the landscape, letting it go without a thought towards the future.

I take my turn at the wheel and remain present. I am happy and peaceful, enjoying my friends and encountering new adventures. I am not plagued by my usual negative thoughts.
Minor events become extraordinary! Stopping the car on the side of the highway to pee and enjoy the view an open ''bathroom'' offers, sleeping out in the open and watching the moon from Nebraska, challenging myself to pushups throughout the drive, visiting with friends along the way, collapsing into a deep sleep with no cares after chugging 2 beers in a grimy hotel room... this drive home has become a rewarding adventure all its own. This gives me hope that I will be able to not only endure the months until my return to the mountains, but thrive.

I challenge myself to not worry about the future. No matter how hard I try, I am unable to change time. l can and do take action towards future events. I plan our next family vacation, and work to make it happen, both financially and organizationally. I train for the climbing I will be doing during the trip, and work extra jobs in order to help pay for it. But I cannot predict what the weather will be like months from now when I go out to climb, so I do not spend time worrying about it. Fretting about the future takes me out of the present. I am learning that being present not only serves me, but also my family and the world, well.
I continue to strive to be present, and as I succeed, I am happier and more peaceful. And when I feel this way, I know that the future will be great.

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