I woke up this morning to icy streets and pathways and a light covering of fresh snow. After a week of mild weather, I had hoped to ride my bike again because I have a number of meetings at different locations. I was disappointed but trudged out the door, dressed for the cool temperatures, heading for a bus stop. My route was a bit slippery. I took a familiar path where I often have a moment with an old dog who comes down off his stoop to greet me and get his head scratched. His age has reduced his mobility but not his enthusiasm for connection.
This morning, he was on the sidewalk plowing snow with his nose and sensed me from 200 meters away. He bounded down the sidewalk, leaping into fresh snow and celebrating the opportunity. It has been ten years since I saw him with so much energy. I was captured in his zeal and lifted in appreciation for the nip in the air and the snow under my feet.
I don’t know what his owners call him but I always greet him with ” Buuudddyy” and this elicits a wagging tail. This morning he responded to my voice with a jump to his hind legs and a big shake of his head. He was (anthropomorphically) living in the joy of the moment – not worried about lunch, not concerned about transit schedules, not racing to the next thing, not thinking lofty thoughts or imagining what he should do tomorrow.
There is much that I can learn about being present. My tendency is to live through time rather than in it. When I catch myself getting too far ahead of myself, I take three breaths and lean into the moment without concern for the imagined consequences of being ‘late.’
My stroll to the bus stop was filled with unexpected ease, and my disappointment about not riding my bike was gone. Buddy’s presence was a gift that I get to share with others, as early as today and as often as I can.
Living in the moment is all the rage. Being present without thought of past or future but only embracing what is in front of you now is a mantra I have heard often. I know that I live through time too much. I rarely stop and seek the aroma along the journey. I have mixed feelings about being totally present. Mindfulness can lead to obsessive self interest – the selfies culture that records the nuance and minutiae springs from being hyper aware of ‘now’ in what I see as unhealthy behaviour. But being mindful in a difficult conversation removes the edges of anxiety and emotion. I can see the discussion unfolding in front of me like a hockey game – I get to be part of the broadcast crew (neutral but interested).
I tend to try presencing when I am alone on a journey. Driving across the prairies can be monotonous so I meditate on what I am encountering. How is the scenery changing. the geology?the topgraphy? the surface of the road? How many cars come towards me in 2 minutes? Where are they going? I have seen some amazing stuff when I turn my attention to the moment rather on the past, the future or some fantasy. Fifteen pronghorn antelope crossed the highway in front of me, at a full gallop, and without breaking stride dipped under the bottom strand of a 3 wire fence. I have witnessed red tailed hawks hunting in pairs, sunlight glistening on a canola field and for a stretch of 32 km, not another car in sight.
The journey is interesting and when I live in the current situation, the destination magically gets closer faster. It is like when I tell my grandkids that if “they go to sleep, I will take a shortcut” magic. Time’s elastic nature slows in the moment a speeds in the aggregate. I don’t gaze down the highway or wonder about what is in the rear view mirror. I am sure that my focus is sharpened when I don’t try hold too much time simultaneously. When I walk a familiar path, after the first 10 minutes, I find I can fall into the rhythm that I am hearing in the here and now.
I don’t practice mindfulness all the time. I find forcing it exhausting, when around more than one other person. I can’t manage it when I feel there is deadline or I am brushed with rush. I haven’t figured out where it fits in my creative or athletic processes and if I have limited control over the situation I find it impossible.
The mind and time shifting properties of meditating on this moment are overblown and under appreciated depending on the messenger. Like everything I encounter, it is easy to say and harder to do but today as I journey across the city on foot, I am open to what those minutes will offer.
Make Today Mindfully Remarkable,