Friday, June 14, 2013
The gift of the present.
My husband has some kind of nerve asking what I'm "doing today."
The last time I checked, he wasn't a detective or some sort of adult truant officer, peeling back the monotonous layers of my domestic routine to uncover the unsavory recognition that I might not be performing brain surgery or saving a species or negotiating a peace treaty.
I always brace myself for this question because it's tiresome to admit that the answer is always, basically, the same. I'm pretty much doing a version of what I did the day before....
While I know he is asking from a place of curiosity, even concern, my jaw still tightens and I must confront an accountability of sorts. To answer for my time. To outline the efforts I am making for my children, my family. I sense an immediate need to create an image of activity that lends credibility to my time and expenditure of my energy. I huff about chores and obligations. What else would I be doing? Working my fingers to the bone! Should I admit the potential for boredom? Could there be a whisper of laziness? Indulgence between loads of laundry and the shuttling of his progeny?
Before I go any further, my husband is well aware of the tedious, ongoing work I do every day, without a doubt. I also acknowledge the freedom I have to decide how I spend my time and dedicate myself to activity I see fit. Something, however, unsettles me to account for ambiguous time.
I met a pediatric oncologist the other day. She also is a wife and mother, and I bet nobody asks what she is doing for the day. If they did, they would get trumped. "Just saving the lives of children..." It doesn't take much to trump me...What are you doing today? "Well, I thought I would do some housework in my pajamas and find a little time to work on that mystery stain on the couch..."
This all begs the question of how we value time. What we esteem as important and how we utilize the precious moments we have to spend with our family. Is there any glory in the everyday repetition of our lives? Better yet, can there be found joy?
I find that I have a deep, ongoing struggle to live in the present. As I become swallowed in mindless activity: scrubbing, pushing a vacuum back and forth, back and forth... I sometimes fall into a black hole of pondering the past and pulling it into my clean, bright present. And, like a cold front darkening the horizon, the clouds roll in and I anguish over events I cannot change, and darken the possibilities of today, feeling that it is somehow forever tainted. I also have the tendency to plague my present with the future, of all the things that must change and upgrade in order to sense a proper level of satisfaction with my life.
I found a quote that resonated with me, and I find so much inspiration in it, and really couldn't express it better myself, so I wanted to share...
I “believe that this way of living, this focus on the present, the daily, the tangible, this intense concentration not on the news headlines but on the flowers growing in your own garden, the children growing in your own home, this way of living has the potential to open up the heavens, to yield a glittering handful of diamonds where a second ago there was coal. This way of living and noticing and building and crafting can crack through the movie sets and soundtracks that keep us waiting for our own life stories to begin, and set us free to observe the lives we have been creating all along without ever realizing it.
I don’t want to wait anymore. I choose to believe that there is nothing more sacred or profound than this day. I choose to believe that there may be a thousand big moments embedded in this day, waiting to be discovered like tiny shards of gold. The big moments are the daily, tiny moments of courage and forgiveness and hope that we grab on to and extend to one another. That’s the drama of life, swirling all around us, and generally I don’t even see it, because I’m too busy waiting to become whatever it is I think I am about to become. The big moments are in every hour, every conversation, every meal, every meeting.
I believe that if we cultivate a true attention, a deep ability to see what has been there all along, we will find worlds within us and between us, dreams and stories and memories spilling over. The nuances and shades and secrets and intimations of love and friendship and marriage and parenting are action-packed and multicolored, if you know where to look.
Today is your big moment. Moments, really. The life you’ve been waiting for is happening all around you. The scene unfolding right outside your window is worth more than the most beautiful painting, and the crackers and peanut butter that you’re having for lunch on the coffee table are profound" in it's sustenance. "This is it. This is life in all its glory.... Pull off the mask and you will find your life, waiting to be made, chosen, woven, crafted.
Your life, right now. t Today. You and your family and your friends and your house and your dinner table and your garage have all the makings of a life of epic proportions, a story for the ages. Because they all are. Every life is.
You have stories worth telling, memories worth remembering, dreams worth working toward, a body worth feeding, a soul worth tending.
You are more than dust and bones.
You are spirit and power and image of God.
And you have been given Today.”
― Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life
In an ongoing effort to rehabilitate my "present," I am determined to live this summer presently, and find the beauty in it. To feel the connection to the only thing that really is: now.