September 16, 2012

“Let the hard things in life break you. Let them affect you. Let them change you.”

 Once upon a time I broke my leg.

No big deal. Lots of people do.

For me, it was one of those defining moments where we decide how to look at life. Do we hide from pain or do we face it? Do we accept the present moment, or avoid it and distract ourselves from it? I decided, then, that I wanted to learn from the hard things in life. I realized that I would rather feel pain, than feel nothing. I would rather be weathered and shaped by life than closed off and unaffected.

Sometimes I still forget. I want a break. I want a do-over. I want to distract myself when something hurts. I want to think about the good moments instead.

But if I do that, I’m missing out. We can’t ever get to that right time where we have perfect balance and every thing is smooth sailing. We only have now, whatever it happens to be.

And that, in itself, makes all the difference.

Right now, we have the opportunity, the perfect space to be completely present. We have it over and over, and so often—we miss it.

Right now, my hair is wet from the shower. My feet are freezing. I’m hungry but I’ve waited so long post-workout to eat that I can’t figure out what I want and it’s making me grumpy.

A few minutes ago, I caught myself mumbling as I dressed, rolling over a past unhappy moment over and over in my mind. Then, I heard my children playing in the other room, laughing hysterically at something.

I looked out my window and saw a family of deer in my woods. I stood still and noticed my wet skin, goosebumpy and shivering. I listened to my children laughing. I realized the pain that I was causing myself in that moment wasn’t even real. This isn’t to say that we don’t have painful moments, but often “the most difficult times are the ones we give ourselves.”

When we look at and cling to the past, it’s mostly our perspective, our imagination, that we let affect us—with pleasure or pain. When we long for the future, for some other thing than right now, we are doing the same thing. Whether these projections make us feel good or bad, we’re missing out.

We need to be fully present, right now.


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