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September 30, 2022

The gift of living in the moment

Photo by Keegan Houser on Pexels.

Working from home has provided me with the joy of a direct window view and therefore, the opportunity to connect to the outside at any given moment.

This afternoon, I briefly looked outside while hearing a dog bark in the distance and enjoyed the view of the backyard while acknowledging the change of the season. The sporadic leaves scattered on the grass and cool breeze rustling in the bushes and the neighbor’s tree gave away the start of autumn. I noticed a small white butterfly making its way across my withering tomato plants and small herb garden box. It flew to the neighbors plants, seemingly bouncing from leaf to leaf. It was such a peaceful and serene moment; transporting myself back in time, when I used to sit on the concrete walkway with my back to the wall of my parents’ house absorbing the heat generated by the afternoon sun and absorbed by the red bricks. I quite enjoyed being still and watching for any life nearby; oftentimes visited by some random green salamander or insect while staring at the sun.

Seeing the butterfly today made me think of that exact time and a wave of calm covered me. Watching the white butterfly also pointed out to me how fast time changes. Not a single moment can truly be frozen or extended permanently, besides a taking a picture or filing the occasion as a memory. Butterflies generally only live for about 2-4 weeks. But do they ever think about the time they have in this world or do they truly live in the moment? Would you consider that a blessing or a curse? Could we (as people) learn from a small creature like this and just engage with our environment and people by being completely present, not thinking about yesterday or planning for tomorrow?

I find that as adults, we generally make life more complicated than it has to be. We base future events or opportunities on prior experiences and therefore, plan all actions according to the past outcomes. By constantly comparing the past with possible future outcomes, we often step outside of the current moment. We tend to always think ahead; of course this is extremely important, especially in traffic or predicting behavior or actions when our kids are small and they could get hurt. But what about those amazing conversations or fun activities we participate in? What about those? Are we truly present or merely going through the motions? Are we doomed to only appreciate them in hindsight? That would mean, we are living in the past versus in the present, again. Then, are we going to re-create similar moments or experiences in order to re-live and re-feel what we had at that past time, only to be disappointed in the outcome, because we can’t truly create an exact copy of what once was?

Will this make us depressed? Will this cause us to constantly want to hold on, even hoard past experiences and completely disregard the here and now? Can we appreciate the here and now?

We should. We NEED to. We have to! There is something wonderful about acknowledging each aspect of every moment. It creates self-awareness and by taking an invisible and almost non-existent timeout, we get the opportunity to capture the laughs, smiles, voices from conversation across the room, the smells of food, clatter of utensils or dishes, feeling the breeze coming from outside, observe the joy of others and truly appreciate the gift of presence; our own existence in our environment and the presence of others in our life. It is those small and simple moments that matter most, because … just as Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I believe that is not only true, but essential to the human experience.  Therefore, give yourself and others the gift of being present.

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