Truth be told, I almost always think I should be doing something other than what I am doing.
If I am working, I should be outdoors playing. If I am outdoors playing, I should be paying bills. If I am paying bills, I should be saving more money. If I am saving money, I should be giving more to charity. If I am giving to charity, I should be cutting my expenses. If I am cutting my expenses, I should be figuring out how to make more money.
If I am reading, I should be writing. If I am writing, I should have started writing earlier. If I am watching TV, I should be doing almost anything else. If I am eating, I should be eating less. If I am exercising, I should be exercising more. If I’m blogging, I should have had a better concept before I started the blog, or I should be improving the design,or doing less or more online social networking.
Well, you get the idea.
Living in the now…later
I am just not naturally a very ‘present’ person. I know it’s hip, enlightened, smart and even healthy to be present. Popular thought asserts that being present is the key to happiness and contentment in life – and who doesn’t want that? In fact, there is a whole industry created for the sole purpose of teaching you how to live in the now. Even so, I’m still mostly always thinking I should be somewhere else, doing something other that what I am.
Many times, it seems like the only way for me to turn off the “I should be somewhere else/be doing something else” noise in my brain is to go semi-conscious. So I take to watching TV, reading trashy novels, or aimlessly web surfing.
Often, when I go to ‘practice being present’, the unfiltered, unedited, unflattering truth is – I find I’m just too damned lazy. It’s much easier to numb out and kid myself that ‘later’ I’ll be in a better mood, have more energy, and really feel like being present. Yes, that right – I procrastinate being present.
Puppy, stage right
Enter Chloe. (I hope you will bear with me. It seems clear you will be hearing a lot about my new puppy. As the newest addition to my life, she is foremost in my mind, and at least for now, everything seems to relate back to her.)
Bringing home a 6 month old puppy has forced me to wake up and be present in my life in a way that’s a shock to my ‘I-only-have-myself-and-one-annoying,-yet-entertaining-and-lovable-cat-to-worry-about’ life.
Suddenly, the noise in my head has switched from “I should be doing X instead of Y” to “Where’s the puppy?” “What’s she doing?” “Does she have to go potty?” “Ooops, did she go potty in the house? Hope I find it quick.” “Do I need to take her for a walk again already?” “Is she eating? Does she like her food? Maybe I need to get another kind?”
The necessity of being hyper-vigilant to her every move has woken me up to other things, like going for a walk. “Wow, look at those blackberries, they’re ripe. Oh, yum. They’re rain rinsed, and then warm from the sun. Nice.” And, “Wow, look, I have another new pet. Walter, my front door spider. He’s a very hard worker. And patient, too.” and “Look, Chloe – a dandelion.”
Now, instead of numbing my mind with the constant, steady stream of other people’s thoughts and insights, I’m noticing my own. And instead of watching prepackaged life in 42 minute segments on a box, I’m looking at and living the small details of the larger world, both inside and outside my door.
There are lots of ways to practice being present. A zillion books to buy, a hundred workshops you could take. For me, a mostly lazy gal, I am happy to find that P for puppy = being present.
What about you?
- What do you do to be un-present?
- What brings you back to now?
- This guy – Eckhart Tolle knows a lot about being present – he’s kinda famous for it, I guess.
- So is this guy. Seen him in pictures with lots of other famous people. I hear he’s the real ‘being present’ expert.
- If you want to go the lazy-gals route to being present, you could get your own puppy here.