This is a test…..
These were the words I spoke to my heart as I made the choice to lock my cell phone in the hotel room safe for the entire day. I wanted the day in the theme park to be without distractions. Actually turning the phone off and placing it in the safe made me a bit uncomfortable, and I found myself second guessing my choice of disconnecting from the rest of the world, including my children.
The discomfort was quickly followed by a twinge of guilt, sending a message of doubt to my mothering heart, “What if one of my kids needs me? What if something happens?”
Past moments of phone messages bearing bad news replayed in my mind, as if it were a bad omen to be without my phone. Nonsense…..my phone is not going to hold me hostage! I reminded myself it was OK, and all would be well with the world when I decided to re-engage at the end of the day.
I experienced that familiar momentary panic of wondering where my phone was, thinking I had lost it or misplaced it. Add to this the annoyance at my frequent impulse to grab for my phone, only to realize it wasn’t there. Within a very short amount of time, one thing was clear – my phone had become an extension of my body, and this extension was as natural as moving my arms or legs. Until then, I wasn’t aware of how much phone time I logged in on any given day.
The realization that I had forgotten how to be completely present was disconcerting, especially since so much of my phone usage is for picture-taking, updating and texting for the purpose of remembering and sharing the present.
To my surprise, being present offered me an unexpected richness to my day…..A baby girl made eye contact, smiled and gurgled….she was beautiful, trusting and uninhibited as she allowed us to play peek-a-boo with her….A family who was visiting for the first time darted with excitement in an out of the crowd, eager to get to the next attraction….
I might have misinterpreted their actions as rudeness had I not been present….Vibrant colored flowers popped from the landscape as we traveled through our day….The warmth of the sun felt soothing after walking outside from an icy air-conditioned building.
Likewise, the cool rush of air conditioning sent waves of happiness over our bodies after inching through long lines in the heat of the afternoon sun….screaming, laughing and screaming again…..sharing dessert and memories.
Disconnecting distractions would have robbed me of the fullness of my day had I chosen not to be completely present.
I wonder if the difficulty of living in the present is partly due to our need to silence what we perceive as the mundane; to create purpose and meaning to our existence beyond “being.” Living in the present requires relinquishing control and accepting things as they occur, yielding completely. It necessitates a willingness to see beyond ourselves and our own agendas, needs and wants. It demands a humility to acknowledge that we do not have all the answers, nor do we need all the answers.
“Life is available only in the present moment. If you abandon the present moment you cannot live the moments of your daily life deeply.”– Thich Nhat Hanh
- The details of life unfold in front of our eyes. Each and every detail, when allowed to be experienced in the present leaves an impression on our day that would have otherwise been missed. Nature, people, interactions and situations are all given a moment of recognition as they are allowed to register in our present. What appears as mundane in the rat race of life becomes meaningful and an important piece of the big picture.
- We are able to interact freely. Conversations flow freely when uninterrupted and void of distractions. Strangers become momentary acquaintances, and connections are made effortlessly as common experiences are shared. Value is easily added to someones life in the few moment’s it takes us to offer them our complete attention, a smile, a word of encouragement or a listening ear. In the present there is the gift of a singular real moment which has the power to impact a life when due weight is given to such a moment.
- Our spirit is quieted. Our mind slows down, and our body exhales when we allow ourselves to be present. The worries of our world, though not gone are given their proper place in our lives as what we thought to be urgent becomes suddenly dispensable for the sake of absorbing every ounce of what the present has to offer. The big picture begins to make sense apart from our planning, thinking and searching, and the present becomes enough as we draw strength and perspective from its simplicity.
- Joy is discovered in the moments. Moments become richer and more meaningful as we experience them in a mindset of the present instead of lumping them all together into a montage of happenings. Each moment when it registers in our quieted state of being present can deliver a satisfaction and thankfulness in the simplicity of the day. What is normally taken for granted in the fast lane of our day has a chance to be recognized, valued and enjoyed.
Interestingly enough, not a single text was awaiting me when I returned to the hotel room and rescued my cell phone from its loneliness. All was indeed well with the world, and my world was fuller and more peaceful. I turned my phone off and tucked it away for the remainder of my time away.
Tomorrow and all of its duties would arrive soon enough, but for now, it could wait.
“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.” – Henry David Thoreau
What hinders you from being present?