Is it possible to “Live in the moment”? So many teachings and philosophies have this at their core. It seems like such a simple thing, yet for many of us, it is very elusive!
I remember years ago I was participating in a year-long leadership program. It was the kick-off retreat week, and we were on a rope corse set among the redwoods in Northern California. We had to climb a ladder, then net, then a few sparse branches; on to a narrow platform; where from there we were suppose to leap out and catch a trapeze bar.
While most of my friends were confronting fears and anxiety about the task ahead.., I was working out in my mind how much time each phase would take, and how I could shave as much time off each portion, so that I could do it faster than anyone else!
When it was my turn, as I approached the tree, with my plan ready to execute; they told me to “Stop and hug the tree”. I was not happy! They were throwing off my plan. I stood there hugging the tree, recalculating how I would ever make the time up! It lasted long enough that I finally decided, I would start my time AFTER the whole tree hugging was over. They kept saying “Be in the moment”.
WHAT??? I was in the moment as far as I was concerned. I was present and clear with my plan to win! (Even though this was not a competition!)
Finally they said go! And I was sprinting as fast as I could go! I was about 20 feet up in the air, almost to the platform, when they told me to sit back in the harness and just relax! I don’t even need to tell you how upset I was… I wanted to go! I wanted to ace this experience. But, since they were in charge, I sat back.
From below I heard one of them say “What do you see?”
I started to look around. First I focused on the people on the ground. Most having their own experience and other than the leaders and a couple of people spotting the belay lines, they weren’t really paying attention to me. They were having their own experiences.
I began to scan the trees, ground and surrounding wilderness. It was the first time I had ever really been in the redwoods. I began to notice how different these woods were to the ones I grew up with in Maine. How different they were from the forests near Julian and Descanso, that are just north of San Diego where I had been living for the past 20 years.
Then I brought my gaze up and got lost in the horizon. The rolling hills and forests of this area near Sebastopol were beautiful. And for a moment, that was all that existed. Once more from below I heard them ask “What do you hear”?
As I listened, I realized that I could hear the hum of traffic from a distant road, potentially miles away. I could hear the sounds of birds and the rustling of the leaves from small animals or the wind. I could hear every conversation happening on the ground, even those not directed at me. I was an observer of my surroundings. A part of it, yet separate. I had a very visceral experience of “being in the moment”.
I knew what they meant. For the first time ever, I realized my life was almost always lived in the future. My mind was always thinking about what would be happening in hours, days, weeks or even months ahead. In that moment, I knew I was missing the details of my life.
I got so lost in the moment, I forgot that I was in the middle of a ropes course! When they finally said, “Okay, go on!”; I wish I could say I finished the rest of the challenge with a new sense of connection and oneness with the whole experience. Instead, as soon as they brought me back to the task at hand… I was back in competition and win mode! (Even though this was not a competition!)
But I received a gift that day. All those years ago, climbing a tree in the woods, I had a very real experience of “Living in the Moment”. And as life goes on, I realize more and more that ‘this moment’ is the one I want to be in!
Take this moment for yourself. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you know about this moment in your life? I hope you feel as blessed as I do! Yeah… have that kind of day!
With Light, Love, and Laughter