It recently dawned on me just how much time we spend thinking about the past, future, or hypothetical, and how little time we focus on the present moment.
Haven't you noticed the same?
There's a well known bumper sticker that says something like, "I'd rather be fishing" or "I'd rather be hunting" or pretty much anything other than what you're currently doing.
But there's also a zen take on this bumper sticker which is, "I'd rather be here now."
While it is a lighthearted take on the original stickers, it's actually more profound than most people realize.
Imagine this scenario. You haven't seen your significant other for weeks. They've been away on a business trip and you've missed them like crazy. Sleepless nights, lots of crying - all that good stuff.
Then comes the day when they fly back home. You're on the way to the airport. Your mind is racing. Oh my god this is crazy I get to see my baby again! What if they're not the same? What if they're too tired to talk? What if they're in a bad mood from the flight? Is my car clean? Wait, why haven't they texted me saying they've landed when I see online that the flight arrived? Am I too early? Am I late?
All these thoughts on the way to the airport. Sound familiar?
You park the car, walk in, and sure enough, as luck would have it, you timed it perfectly. You see your loved one gliding down the escalator with their suitcase. Your heart stops. Endorphins rush. You get a smile on your face. Your body gets tingly. There they are!! They don't even see you yet, but you don't care - you're looking straight into their soul from 100 feet away.
As they get closer to the bottom, they turn their head and make eye contact. Boom. They run to you, you run to them. No one else exists. You're the only two people there. They drop their bags, and you both jump into each other's arms. It's beautiful. Tears flow, kisses are exchanged - lots of them - and it's just you and your partner.
Complete and utter presence on the moment unfolding in front of you.
Where's the voice in your head now? That's right. It shut up. And this is exactly what it means to be here now.
Notice how that presence feels. Quite different than the drive over to the airport.
So a minute of hugging and kissing goes by, and you realize you better pay attention because there's lots of people around, and you don't want anybody to steal your partner's bags.
Enter the mind again.
You both walk about, but your partner seems tired, almost in a bad mood. Now your mind resumes its normal programming. Are they tired or mad? Do they just want to sleep? Should I ask questions now or wait until they've napped? And on and on and on.
Now what are you focused on? Your partner, or the voice in your head?
You're focused on the voice.
When we're fully focused on the moment unfolding in front of us - that is, when our consciousness is fully engaged on what's happening here and now - then we are not focusing on the voice in our heads, which is always trying to steal your attention.
And I mean always.
In rare moments, we catch glimpses of something that literally blows our mind away - a breathtaking sunset, a warm hug from our loved one that we haven't seen in weeks - but this fades away and our minds become noisy again, drawing our attention away yet again from the present moment.
The whole idea of spirituality and finding peace within, is letting go of the noisy, negative, ego mind and getting in touch with the real you - the one inside who observes this mind.
If we can learn to be more present, and understand that the present moment is all we ever have, then we'll immediately respect the natural flow of life, and ultimately be happier.
To do this, one suggestion that I've learned is that we shouldn't try to be present by forcing presence on the moment. Instead, we need to let go of everything that's preventing us from being present, including that incessant chatter in our minds.
Thanks for reading and let me know how presence has affected your life.
Live with substance!