Once upon a time, there was a little girl raised in Massachusetts. She always dreamed of going to New York but never had the opportunity to. That same little girl grew up and went to college, and as fate would have it, an internship fell into her lap that required her to go where? You guessed it! NEW YORK! She spent 6 whole weeks in the big apple, and when it was all over, she and her co-interns had to put on a showcase. They did so wonderfully that at the end, the audience gave them a standing ovation. She doesn't remember it though because as soon as she finished her part she went straight to her seat so that the program could carry on. She never even saw the audience standing to their feet.... why? Because she was too busy thinking about what happens next. This leads us to lesson number 6:
Now, this is a lesson that I'M STILL CONSTANTLY LEARNING AND RELEARNING. But child I'm go'n get it down one day! Do you have any attributes about yourself that are great in some areas, but detrimental in others? Well, mine is my forward-thinking...ness (sure, let's make that a word). It's GREAT on the job. It's GREAT for future planning. BUT always thinking forward has contributed to my missing out on so many moments. It's not that I wasn't there, I am physically present, but my mind is in tomorrow.
See the thing about Today is.... It's happening right now; and when it's over, you can never get it back. They say that today is called the present because it is a gift. It really is, and we should cherish it as such! According to the Kennedy Institute of Ethics," 65 million people die each year in the world. That is 178,000 each day, 7425 each hour, and 120 each minute. " That is WILD! 178,000 people die EVERY DAY and YOU ARE STILL HERE! That is a BLESSING! Today is a Blessing! And you know what, Today is guaranteed, how do I know that? Cause you're here! So why then, do we squander and ignore this blessing?
See, Not being present isn't just about constantly thinking about tomorrow. It can also be, constantly thinking about the past too. Have you ever been around those people who are ALWAYS talking about what they use to do, what they were good at, who they use to know? And I mean in the unhealthy AAAAAAALLLLLLWAYS, not in the once in a while reflective kind of reminiscing. Sometimes I just want to ask them "that's cool, but what about today though? What are you doing and who are you today?"
And then we have those who waste the present by being on their phone or engaging in some interaction with a screen. They can tell you all of the latest memes, but can't tell you what their sister is struggling with today. They can tell you all of the sports player's stats, but can't tell you why their wife wants a divorce. They have the flyest pictures on Instagram but don't even realize they haven't heard from their friend in WEEKS. They can quote every line from the movie but haven't submitted their LLC application, haven't finished their paper, and haven't accomplished anything in the day that can better them. Time just flies by as we watch these people who are already living their dreams.
I have this rule when I'm out to eat with folks or when I'm hosting dinner: "No screens at the table". I meeeean take the obligatory picture/video of the food and then put the phone away lol! I don't even want the tv on. Some people love it, and some people don't. But my whole thing is, baby that phone and those posts may live on for eternity, Me and my time is limited, and you're not allowed to cry and miss me when I'm gone if you never were present with me when you had me. You feel me? So last December my friend went on a date with this girl for the first time. He called me to tell me about the date, and he said "she made me think of you." So, I ask "why? does she look like me?" He says "No, the entire time... the ENTIRE TIME she was on her phone, and all I could think about was your rule and the fact that I am never going to see this woman again." That was equal parts funny and sad to me at the same time.
Be present ya'll. You're missing out on a lot when you're not, and one day you'll look back and realize that you don't have much to look back on.
A few ways I've found that help me be present:
Limited screen time: No, that doesn't mean you never use your phone or watch TV. But reduce some of the time you spend in front of a screen. Sometimes I would set a timer and once that timer went off, screens went off too. Sometimes I would factor it into my schedule, literally, my schedule would say "3-5: Screen Time". Do what works for you.
Taking notes: To avoid drifting away in my mind thinking about something else (past, future, etc) I will take notes on what's happening. Like at church.
Breathe Breaks & Mental Notes: Sometimes when I catch myself drifting, I will pause and take a few breaths, and make a few mental notes/observations about what is going on in that moment. It helps to reconnect with the present
Journaling: Ok so I'm actually not good at this one; BUT, I've found that when I do journal it forces me to reflect on the day and helps me be more present so that I can remember
Limiting Documentation: I loooove love love having pictures and videos to look back at. But sometimes when we're so focused on capturing the moment, we forfeit the gift of being able to experience the moment. It's ok if you don't have a picture of everything. Take a few and then just be in the moment.
Remember the senses: I try to remember to experience sight, touch, sound, smell, and taste if applicable in situations.
Engaging in Active Listening: Listen to people when you're with them. Ask Questions and follow-ups. Find connections in what they're saying. Engage.
I hope that those help. Let me know if you have a few you can add to the listen. Thank You for being present with me here. Now go on and live life.
I love ya'll for real.
Lighting up the woods, one Syllable at a time