Recently, I have felt in a bit of a rut. I’m driving in a roundabout that has no exits. There’s a Ferris wheel in my mind and in each cart sits a different task, worry, or event. The only problem is that every passenger exists in the future so I have no control over what happens, but what I realized this morning while showering (because most great ideas come to people in the shower) is that I have control of when the ride stops and everybody has to exit the ride when I say.
This all emanates from the common saying live in the now. This is easy to tell people. All one has to do is lift their tongue to the top of their mouth, put their teeth down on their bottom lip and repeat while pushing out air. Simply enough that’s how speech works, but what is difficult about the saying is that the person it is being said to must then take action. What does it mean to live in the now? Funny, isn’t it, how we can say something to each other all of the time but then have no idea how one would actually go about doing it? Physically, we are all in the present moment, but how does one change their mindset from worrying about what they can’t control in another time to existing in the current space?
My first piece of advice is take a shower. The reason so many ideas flow in this space is because we have nowhere to go and nowhere to be. Our minds can wander all they want but they aren’t stopping us from doing anything. Our mindless shampooing and soaping continues without hinderence no matter what our minds may wander to. It is because of this that the shower is the best place to go from away to present. In order to live in the now you must prioritize your thoughts. What my problem has been is that I’m worrying about things way ahead in the future. I was looking beyond what I need to do tonight and my weekend plans, which is sad because I have some really exciting weekend plans, and into the unknown.
The thought that made me aware of the now was “I need to get directions to my friends house I’m visiting this weekend.” I have never visited one of my friends at her school since we went our serperate ways for college and I’m finally going this weekend. This is super exciting for me, but instead of thinking about what to pack, what we will do together, and how to get there, I was thinking about plans I have in January. Looking back at this now I just want to scold myself. What was I thinking?! Why would anyone ever look past their happiness into the deep abyss of the unknown future?! And that’s the answer to our question.
To live in the now a person must be willing to change their perspective and focus on what’s at hand whether it is good, bad, exciting, or dismal. We often ignore the present because we don’t like how things are panning out, but when we face our fears and challenges, when we open up to the present and find ways to make it relaxing and fun every chance we get, that’s when we live in the now. It’s a complete choice or, in my case, a revelation on the behalf of the host. If what’s happening in the present or near future comes to you naturally then that’s super amazing, but if you feel stuck in the way I have been recently, try adjusting your mirrors, like if you are driving. Look out the side mirrors, are they too far out looking past the road and into the unknown woods you keep passing? Adjust them. Is your rear view mirror tilted and you can’t see what might be coming up on you? Adjust it.
No matter what is happening, you can take control. Let’s stop telling people to live in the now and start helping them get back to the present. Let’s ask each other what we are doing tonight or on the weekend, not to make plans, but to actiavely engage and focus on the present. In a world that nurtures its people with progress, focus, meditation, and perspective we can all breathe a little easier in the now and let what comes come.