“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have.” ~ Eckhart Tolle
What is it about a good spontaneous flirt with someone you find attractive that brings you into the present moment and then flings you far out of it like nothing else does?
I remember the first time I flirted with a stranger—it happened rather by accident. I was 30 (yes, I know that’s old). Last night I found myself in a similar position once again flirting with a stranger, again by accident.
I arrived a little early at the restaurant where I was meeting my friends and the waiter suggested I sit at the bar. There sat a man sat nursing his beer and lost in his own thoughts.
He turned to face me and then the dance of the flirt began.
After the first few clunky minutes of polite exchange our dance really got some steam. My playful side came out and I was making jokes without even noticing what I was doing.
I surprised myself by how easy it all was. My mind didn’t seem to be in control at all.
I’m normally quite a considered talker, someone that listens carefully and predicts the best response in the given situation. Does the person I’m talking to (maybe) need a question, positive mantra or well-chosen life story anecdote? I don’t normally allow myself to let go of serving a role and just flow naturally in conversation; normally I’m too busy trying to discover what is it that they want or need from me.
Probably because of this I often find conversations with people I don’t know very well exhausting. My mind always likes to be a few steps ahead of the interaction, so much so I can never really enjoy it as it’s happening. Especially with people I don’t know and especially with men I find attractive.
Staying present might be reasonably easy for me on the yoga mat or meditation cushion but when I’m talking with a man I’m attracted to I go into mental hyper drive.
So this exchange at the bar last night was a pleasant departure from all that busy mind stuff. I found myself completely in the Now for that 30 minute interaction: there was no search and discovery, no predicting what I should say in advance and no analyzing whether he was attracted to me or not.
Well, not until afterward anyway.
As I watched my own words flow out of my mouth I was surprised at my own audacity. I was saying things I normally wouldn’t dream of saying to a man I found attractive…but the funny thing was there didn’t seem to be any agenda from either of us. It wasn’t sexual flirting of the normal bar variety. No numbers were exchanged or propositions offered and I don’t even know if he was attracted to me.
I was too busy enjoying the interaction to notice either way and it seemed he was too.
My walls surprisingly down, I was being myself without any self-censoring.
I was teasing him, we were teasing each other and I wasn’t in my normal defensive mode like I normally am with men. I liked myself this way—natural and uncensored.
The natural unfolding of our flirting consumed all of my presence. Time even slowed a little while we were talking but not in that gooey-eyed lovey dovey sort of way. He slowed in drinking his beer and my path to join my friends having now all arrived at the restaurant also slowed as the rest of the world almost disappeared in relevance. But soon it was time to part ways and we both left back into our separate lives.
I didn’t think about him again until I returned home after dinner. It wasn’t until then that the Now disappeared and my mindplay took over again. It jumped from sexual fantasy to replaying the whole interaction and then onto my favorite of trying to predict whether I might see this man again and whether we were meant to be together.
A wave of New Age guilt swept over me as I sat on my bed reviewing the night. Eckhart Tolle’s The Power Of Now lay open on my kindle just a few feet away. No kidding, this is what I happen to be reading at the moment. I’m a little annoyed at myself. I thought I almost had it down during that first flirt but then the Now slipped away from me and I got lost in both the past and the future.
I wanted to repeat that glorious series of Nows again and again with this man. Damn it. I think I must have missed the point.
I find it a challenge to have these kinds of wonderful interactions without wanting more. But in always looking ahead I end up tainting the present situation with either an expectation of the future or a projection of my past fears that remind me of when things didn’t work out according to my hopes.
I guess staying present when it comes to love is probably the toughest test I will ever have to face. And the most enjoyable one.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Romeo AD at Flickr