May 17, 2014

On Living in the Present & Having a Vision of the Future.


Sometimes it’s hard to balance living in the present moment and having a long-term vision.

I live presently as much as possible—and thanks to good karma, years of practice and luck and having made certain choices in my life—I live presently oftenly.

However. I occasionally feel a peculiar (internal? external? where is it coming from!?) pressure to change my geographical location.

I am happy where I am. We are happy where we are.

I turned into a we here in Guatemala. I, a stressed out school teacher, have evolved into a perpetually blissful and mindful writer and and wife and mama here at Lake Atitlan.

Yes, I have bad days. No, I am not enlightened. Not even close. But I am (we are) happy, safe, healthy and grateful for it all.

So, why leave? Well, the kid. Her grandparents and other relatives want closer proximity to our precious Jade. And we want to give them that, and her that. So we may wrench ourselves away from this luscious lagoon, at some point.

But really, the idea of change, of leaving this magical, beautiful place—even for another magical and beautiful place—freaks me out.

I realize that my attachment to Guatemala, and Lago Atitlan in particular, may not be altogether Buddhist or healthy. But I just can’t see leaving.

And of course, I’m here now. Living mindfully. Joyfully. With so many of the things I want around me: nature in the form of a large body of water, trees, flowers (so many flowers!), cliffs, hills, volcanoes; love in the form of my husband and daughter (I do miss my family and friends back home); freedom in the form of being able to walk or bike most everywhere, being able to buy fresh, inexpensive food at the market, being privileged and able to afford luxurious imported foods like tofu and almond milk.

I have become more and more a country mouse as I’ve aged. No more city living for me, gracias! To visit the city, spend a week there, is fine. But to live? I need quiet. I need scenery. I need space. I need nature. I need calm. I need to be in the country. I have all that here. Can I give it up? Won’t I be miserable if I’m not here?

Ah. Back to the moment. I breathe in deeply. I sigh. I let go of my worries and five-year plans. I listen to the birds chirp.

The plans can wait. I am blessed to be here in this present.

I’ve struggled over the years with the balance between doing and being; achieving and progressing versus surrender and letting it be. “The present moment” has become somewhat cliche but mindfulness is definitely not a fad. It is an ancient movement gaining popularity because it is so needed, so necessary.

Living in the present moment is more than just a way to escape planning for the future and dwelling on the past. It is a way to connect with our experience, our senses, our intuition and the constant flow of change. It is a way to deepen our relationships, to taste our food, to hear the wind and dance in the rain.

For most of us, it is not possible to live 100 percent in the now… We have important jobs to do and things to prioritize and trips to plan. What I have found works best is making a plan, writing it down, and then letting it go, watching with amusement at how far things usually end up compared to the original plan.

Likewise, reflecting on the past and realizing that memory is selective by nature.

I am (we are) repositioning words and recreating stories all the time, because we can.


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Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: Pixoto

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