Being in the moment has taught me more these last couple months than anything else. It’s been 2 months since I closed the salon and our state shutdown. It’s been a slow crawl to this point. The point of acceptance, at least more accepting than when quarantine first began. I wanted it to be over as soon as it began. I think 95% of us feel that way now even. We want this pandemic to hurry up and go away so we can get back to living our lives like normal. But, what if normal never returns? What if a year from now there’s still no cure or vaccine and life is still vastly different from how it used to be? We’re wishing away time that we’ll never get back. Isn’t that what we always do? We look ahead, planning for the next big thing in our life. We don’t stop to appreciate where we are. We’re rarely present in the moment.
I’m a chronic offender when it comes to this. I get distracted. I get restless and busy myself. For over a decade I worked insane hours and constantly pushed myself to the point of exhaustion and tears and compromised my health more than once to get to the next level in my career. I would reach a goal and immediately put my next plan into action to expand even further. I rarely took a step aside to appreciate the moment I was in. I didn’t give deep gratitude to what the universe had sent my way. I missed a lot during those years. I missed so many weekends with my newborn, my toddler, family picnics, gatherings with friends, time with my husband to stay deeply connected. I won’t say that I regret the work I put it because I may not be where I am now if I didn’t put that time in. But, I do have a measurement called the Death Bed Measurement. If I were on my death bed, would I be giving thanks for all the extra hours I put in? Or would I more likely be thanking God for the time I spent with my family and friends? In other words, what matters most in life? Will I be on my death bed one day and be able to say I lived my life the best that I could, and feel completely fulfilled?
We’re all riding our bikes at top speed and looking far down the road. If we were to pump the breaks and gradually come to a stop, we could take the view in with intention. Instead, a virus came along and stuck a stick in our spokes, and we flipped head over handle bars right into the gravel. We never saw it coming because we had our usual tunnel vision on what was next. Now, here we are, knees and elbows skinned with a broken nose, laying in the road wondering how we ended up this way. We sit here, grumbling about life being interrupted and we’re confused of how we landed. Our bike is all banged up and out of operation. We’re forced to sit in this discomfort. While we sit, we wish for someone to hurry up and fix our wounds and repair our bike so we can hop on and continue riding full speed ahead. We don’t like to be thrown off course.
What if we took advantage of this time? We have to sit and wait either way, so why not make it so that this life changing event isn’t in vain? Maybe our bikes can’t be repaired, and we have to find a new way to move about. What I’m trying to say is, tomorrow isn’t a guarantee, let alone next year. The next minute has never been guaranteed; we only had a false sense of that it was. We need to live now and not keep waiting for this to pass. We can’t afford to wait. Whether you’re collecting unemployment or still working, we need to find the meaning in our present circumstance. Don’t wake up, pour the coffee and instantly begin to scroll through social media. Turn the news off, especially if you have kids; it’s all the same. It’s reminiscent of 9/11; for months that’s the only coverage the news had and it quickly became overwhelming and increased anxiety to uncontrollable levels. If you’re homeschooling, wake up an hour before the kids and pour that coffee and stand looking out your front door. Take in those quiet minutes. Maybe try writing, just let it flow, brain-dump it all out. The point is to get an hour to yourself without the distractions of cells or TV. Can you just sit there and be with your thoughts? It’s not easy, is it? I know. It’s taken me years to be comfortable with silence. We’ve become a society with endless noise and we’re always looking to fill the void. What are we hiding from? The answer: our feelings. It’s uncomfortable to be alone with our feelings. But that’s where the answers are held. That’s how we get to know ourselves. Deeply, truly, fully know ourselves.
Maybe you haven’t been happy at your job that just had to let you go. Maybe you’ve been furloughed from the company you’ve worked at since 21 years old and you don’t know what to do with yourself. Maybe you’re still working from home and suddenly emails and Zoom meetings have tripled because boundaries have become skewed now that there is no separation from office to home. Stress levels are definitely higher now and I’m including myself in this statement. But the stress you have now was there before, it’s just compounded by that damn stick that was thrown into your spokes sending you hurling towards the ground, which created a chain of cause and effect that we can barely wrap our heads around. I get it, this is all stressful. But resisting what your current reality is makes your stress 100 times worse. Can you learn to accept and let go? Can you surrender to what is? Can you stop scrolling your phone and put it away and sit with your child and play? Let your inner child come out and play and be fully present. I’ve been doing this more and more with my little girl and I’m seeing sides of her that I can’t believe I had missed before. She’s awesome and so cool and funny as hell. Can you call your friend instead of texting her and have a free-flowing conversation? Can you sit alone and listen to what those voices you’ve been avoiding are trying to tell you? Do they make you anxious? I promise, if you give them your attention, they hold truth and wisdom. The anxiety comes from trying to avoid them; it only makes them grow louder in an attempt to get your attention, just like a child who throws a tantrum when you ignore them.
Right now we’re completely vulnerable and exposed and although that feels scary and foreign, it’s what we do with that vulnerability that determines the end of this chapter. Times like this is where we all show our true colors. Don’t just go through this, grow through this. We need this time to learn what we’re made of. It’s in the deep tunnels that diamonds are mined. I want to know what I’m made of. I want to come out of this as another version of my phoenix risen. I want to feel my grit and know my deepest self. I hope you find your grit and feel your inner warrior during this. You can feel proud of the strength you develop as a result of going through this insane season. What have you learned about yourself that you didn’t know before?
By the way, as the state begins to slowly reopen this week, this will bring new fears and challenges. We’re not out of the woods yet, so it will be a good time to notice more things as they come our way. Your fear will want to deny, get angry, give up and become more impatient. Have the foresight to know this and intentionally be in the moment. When we’re in the moment, we can respond instead of react.