Be present. Be here.
I've been thinking about this idea a lot over the past few months. My life is fairly uncomplicated right now, at least as lives go, and so I have the luxury to ponder things. As often happens, when an idea takes root in your mind, you find the universe sets it before you in many different ways. This notion of paying attention - it pops up on my social media pages in cute sayings on Facebook or quoted passages on Twitter. Bloggers write about it. My favorite authors explore it in books that I carry around like talismans. Even the young up-and-comers, the 30-somethings who have been hell bent in their pursuit of future achievements, are beginning to rein themselves in and start focusing with renewed appreciation on what is happening right now.
In the present.
Now I'm a little bit obsessed with this idea of being present. I begin to look at everything I do during the day a little differently, so that each activity is unique and not just as something to be finished before I move on to the next item on my list. The very first thing I do in the morning - filling the coffee pot with water, measuring the beans, grinding them to a fine texture, setting our cups on top of the coffeemaker to warm them, pouring the coffee into the cups, setting them on a cloth covered tray, and carrying them upstairs to our bedroom - takes on an element of sacredness.
Does it sound ridiculous to think of making coffee as a sacred ritual? Part of me scoffs. Coffee is coffee, the practical, earth-centered me chides this new introspective character. But yet, I've been making coffee first thing in the morning for the past 37 years. Cumulatively, all the time I've spent making pots of coffee in the morning - not to mention all the hours spent drinking it! - represents a significant portion of my life. And the same could be said for the hours spent driving from place to place, walking the dogs, preparing meals, shopping, gardening...yet I have spent most of my life rushing through these things thinking only of getting to the next step in the process.
Thinking only of getting finished with them so I can move on to something else, something ostensibly bigger, better, more important, more interesting.
"A favorite yoga teacher often has us being in child's pose," writes Dani Shapiro (Still Writing). "As we lie there with our foreheads pressed into the mat, she'll tell us to drop down. Drop in." Shapiro refers to the writer's need to be aware of everything, to immerse oneself in every detail of the moment, to emerge from the "cotton wool" that clouds our perspective. "Feel your feet on the ground. Your butt in the chair. Your elbows on the desk. Feel the breath moving in and out of your belly. The weight of your head on your neck. Your jaw: is it clenched?"
Try it. It's scary, isn't it? This hyper-awareness, this dropping down into the moment feels like a free-fall even as it slows me down. I wonder if this is what sky-diving is like - a sudden drop into the ether, and then a gentle pulling back as the parachute opens and you gracefully, easily float through an open expanse of blue sky.
It's a new sensation, one I can only handle in small doses right now. I experiment, play with it, like a child with a new toy.
And I try not to wonder where it will lead. I try only to fully notice this moment, in this day, in this year.
To be present. Be here.