Being present means that we are fully here. We are living our lives right in this very moment and nowhere else. Our minds aren’t occupied with thoughts of yesterday or tomorrow; we aren’t worried about how the board meeting went, anxious about a presentation we have to give next week, or trying to remember what it was that we needed to pick up from the store on our way home. Being present is to give our full attention to the here and now. To observe. To listen. We are quiet and still. Our minds don’t wander, flitting from one topic to the next like a hummingbird to flowers. Presence in the moment offers tranquility, a chance to slow down and appreciate what is happening around us. To let go of our fears, worries, hopes, and desires to instead simply live and be. The present is the only time that truly exists. When we are present, we are open to receiving what the universe has to offer. We are waiting to see what comes next.
On this topic, Anne Wilson Schaef writes:
“Emily DIckinson was present to the process of her dying when she said [the words, “Dying is a wild night and a new road.”] She seemed to be fully with herself and, at the same time, open to what would come. When we think of our own death, most of us hope that we can be open to the moment.
For most addicts, the idea of dying and the experience of slowly killing ourselves through overwork is something with which we are comfortable. It is the living of our lives at each moment that terrifies us and that we seek to avoid.
Luckily, we can get through this terror and come to know that we have all the caring support we need to live our lives.”
Once again, Anne cuts right to the heart of it, as though she both sees and sees through me. I am more afraid of life than I am of death at times. Dying is easy. You just slip into the infinite blackness, an endless sleep from which you never wake. It is then that all expectations and desires cease, and we can finally be at rest, peaceful. Life, on the other hand, is much harder. It’s full of pain and struggle, tears and disappointment. It takes a great deal of constant work and effort. It is so tempting to avoid the trials and tribulations of life by simply opting out. To zone out and go through life in a haze of avoidance enabled by distraction and addiction. To coast along on a mediocre existence until the end. What a sad waste of such a beautiful gift though! This kind of living also makes death terrifying in a way, because it is a final end. We don’t make the most of life, and death ends any chance for us to ever do so.
I am constantly plagued by this feeling that life is pointless, and at the same time, my life is passing by entirely too fast without my having really enjoyed it. I feel stressed and anxious almost endlessly in the present, yet when I look back, I see only good times and fond memories of what was then. I long to return to the past. It’s one reason I wanted to start this blog—to stop taking things for granted and learn to appreciate them as they happen. Happiness in the moment requires us to focus and let go of our thoughts of the future or the past. We must live each moment as they come, and to be fully present to witness the good each one holds. When we live each moment as though it’s the only one, we find ourselves more appreciative of them. Death becomes not an end, but rather a culmination. We can rest assured that we have embraced and lived each moment we are given to its fullest potential when we are present.