Originally written for my weekly Thursday post on scissorsanddrumsticks.com.
As dinner wrapped up and the twilight hour turned into dark I walked towards the TV room as my habit has become to watch a little mindless television in an effort to wind down and get my mind to slow down. I have always had a problem with slowing down; not physically, per se, but definitely mentally. I noticed that my wife had not joined me as she often did. I headed into our bedroom to find her thumbing through a magazine with just a lamp on. It pains me to say this but I couldn’t recognize at that moment that she wanted to hang out with me for a while. She wanted to turn off the noise, lock us behind closed doors, and just reconnect. Afterall, life has been busy for us the past month or so and it shows no sign of slowing up. But me? I couldn’t recognize that. I misread the signs and I was too self-involved and too preoccupied mentally to notice that while my body was in the room with her, I was nowhere to be found.
Some preacher I am, eh? I talk about unplugging and disconnecting and being minimal in your life and here I am being so busy and so involved that I can’t even notice the needs of my own home. I sulked back to the TV room feeling broken hearted for not being more keen to the simple wishes of my own wife. And that was my moment. That was when the Eureka moment happened. My #1 goal in life should be to be present.
I wrote on my Facebook status the other day that when I look around, I see the faces. Most of the faces are somewhere else though. I now realize that I, too, am one of those faces. I am no better than anyone else. Call it an attention epidemic, if you will; a time in our society in which few are present. Everything is calling us to be anywhere but in the moment. I have often heard my mother warn me not to wish my days away. We all do it. “Man, I can’t wait for Friday.” or “This time next year I’m gonna be able to…..” and we look so far ahead we miss the here and now. As humans we also tend to get lost in nostalgia allowing memories – real or amplified – to swallow us up into some everywhere but here, black hole.
Memories are powerful things. Hope is a powerful thing. But both have the ability to deny us the moment we are in right now. You’re at the local coffee shop, you’re enjoying your latte and gazing across the room. A stranger looks towards you, smiles back at you for no hidden reason, and there’s connection. It’s an ideal scenario. All too often though you are at the local coffee shop, you’re enjoying your latte and gazing across the room. A stranger is busy TXTing away on his blackberry and never notices that there is life all around him. He coldly orders his drink and in a flash, is gone, not even cognizant of who was who and where they were.
Don’t allow yourself to be that person. Don’t allow yourself to be me. Don’t be so busy that you misread your significant other and choose the ever-present mind over the human connection. Practice today. When your cell phone rings, if you are busy doing something else, let it ring. That is why you pay for voicemail. If they don’t leave a voicemail it must not have been that important. Go to your local coffee shop. Get your order to stay rather than to go. Sit. Enjoy the coffee. Appreciate the time it took to cultivate the bean, roast the bean, grind the bean. Smile and smile often. Give away smiles. Open yourself up to connection. Ask your significant other to take a walk with you – just you! No phones, no laptops, no magazines, just you. Be present! This moment will never come again.