Being Present: No More Waiting
One month ago, I was expressing excitement for our new baby chicks to arrive. “I just can’t wait!” Today, I’m longing to see them grown and outside in their run, instead of in their brooder in the utility room. I’m envisioning all of those beautiful birds doing their “chicken thing” out there next to the garden. (Plus, not having to spend all morning cleaning out their brooder will be a welcome change.) I’m sure once they are out there you’ll find me saying, “I just can’t wait for them to start laying!” Or, “I’m so ready to have an abundance eggs I have to give them away.”
With all of this excitement inside one would think life is perfect. Carefree—once I made it to that next step. In reality, that’s never the case. (Did I mention the chicks don’t clean up their own messes? Neither will they collect their own eggs.) There will always be something to keep up with. To take care of. Lately, I’ve noticed how this habit of perpetual “waiting” for what comes next drains me of an appreciation for where I am today.
Learning patience is a vital skill in today’s busy, overpopulated world. It’s a virtue when it comes to dealing with trials and other individuals. Yet, it’s also one of the most important tools we humans have for quieting an overactive ego. There is nothing more upsetting to the ego than being told to wait his/her turn.
Embracing patience brings us to the current moment. Focusing on the present will bring us greater happiness than getting stuck thinking about how much better the future will be. Daisy (my pup) and I were out walking in the driveway a few days back. Spring is in full bloom now (something I’ve been waiting all winter for), but I noticed myself nit-picking what I’d like to do to dress-up the front yard. Instead of appreciating the new growth on the trees, or the beautiful wildflowers popping up amidst the overgrown grass, I was imagining how it would look to plant some rose bushes by the driveway. I pictured the grass mowed and the weeds cleaned up.
I was missing so much. I passed the wildflowers without a second glance. Why was my mind automatically drawn to improving an area, rather than seeing it as it was? Where else am I doing this in my life? I tend to think we’ve been trained to switch to this mode of thinking about the future and what always needs improving. We believe we will relax and life will get better then. It is this belief that leads us to say, “Let’s make these changes happen now.”
When I find myself thinking or speaking in a way that implies my excitement for the future or wanting to improve something in my life, with the hopes of reaching perfection, I stop and remind myself that ‘now’ is where I should be focused. Instead of passing those wildflowers, I’ll hover over them—taking in all their radiance. Looking deeper. Instead of wishing for the day the chicks are grown and outside, I’ll admire them in this moment—noting subtle differences in their appearance and demeanor. I will appreciate their being, knowing full-well that they will soon make the transition to outside chickens. With that, will come a new set of responsibilities and challenges.
There is beauty to be found in every passing moment. None will bring complete freedom from worry, responsibilities, or fear. And there should always be some element of joy within for the future. But it shouldn’t outweigh the joy of the present moment. Learn to gaze upon it with curiosity and acceptance and you will more fully appreciate those future moments when they do arrive.