Living in the Present

by Underdue Support on September 7, 2011

When we had all storms and tornadoes in the spring, I bought a weather radio. I heard about people who were sleeping soundly and suddenly found themselves in the midst of a terrible tornado. That sounded pretty scary, so I thought I should be warned if one was approaching.

After about 2 months I was wondering if it was such a good idea. The warning would go off, waking me up from a dead sleep or shooting me off my chair in my office while I was working. I started looking forward to summer when we had fewer spring storms and the radio wouldn’t go off as much.

Then summer came, and it was unbearably hot. Everyone talked about how hot they were at least once a day! Worst heat in years! We started having dreams about cool weather and gentle snow fall (maybe some of us). The plants were being seared, the grass was getting brown and I was really tired of sweating. One morning I even thought how wonderful it would be to hear that weather radio go off again.

In the last 48 hours the temperature has dropped 20 degrees! Wow – finally it would cool off and we could be comfortable again. I walked outside this morning and thought about how cold the wind was! Man, it’s great that it’s cooler, but what happened to that moderate temperature??

This is a great example of not living in the present.

Almost all of us have some trouble living in the present. We think about things we did (or didn’t do) in our past, or perhaps just wonder how things will work out in the future. Why didn’t I say that better to my child or teen or spouse? If only I had thought before I spoke to my mother. Why did I say that to my boss? Will I get that promotion I really want? Will I get a job? Does my teen have good enough grades to get into college? Can we afford college? Are we putting enough away for our retirement?

There is a lot going on in our world right now that causes us to have concerns and to wonder about our future or second guess our past. Our mind is often anywhere but in the here and now.

For just a moment, though, I would ask you to consider what you miss when you spend your time in this way. You miss the joke your teenager just told (when they don’t tell jokes very often). You missed that story your 8 year old was sharing about the new thing they learned in school. You missed your spouse’s look of disappointment when you didn’t hear a word they said. You missed the rainstorm that cooled off the weather, the sunshine on a butterfly’s wings, or the trees swaying in the breeze. You are missing the present.

I know this probably sounds like that old Pollyanna movie. But just take a minute and stay in the present. Listen to all of the sounds around you. Take a deep breath and smell all of the smells around you (even if you are at work). Let your shoulders relax and feel all the muscles in your neck. For just a few moments, be in the present.

I would like to suggest that we can all gain a great deal from spending just a few moments each day in the here and now! That means you force all of those worries, or to do lists, or appointments out of your mind for just a little while. You might be surprised what you find. I believe you will find yourselves doing it more and more, for longer and longer periods of time. Try it when you children come home from school – or your spouse from work. Try it when you answer the phone.

Living in the present is the best way I know to truly appreciate the wonder of our lives. The next series of posts will be about how to keep living in the present.

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