Lately, I find myself pausing outside of my grandmother’s bedroom as I head out for my early morning walk or run, simply to look at her, take in the image, more fully experience the realization that I am here, right now, living with her.
It feels both like a dream and also like the most natural thing in the world. When I first arrived in Sweden just over three months ago, it didn’t really feel extraordinary. It just felt right—obvious.
But being here is special and it is extraordinary. Because I never thought I’d have this chance.
Since arriving, every day has been filled with similar vacillating sensations, feeling both inherently settled and also totally in awe. Sometimes I still can’t believe it. But most of the time I don’t even think about it.
I’ve fallen into a routine that I love, one that somehow energizes my soul, while relaxing my body and mind. Yet, I find myself filling every moment of my day with something, and usually, with at least one thing that feels “productive.”
Because I am preoccupied with whatever I plan into my day, I find it easy to forget that I am in Sweden—with my grandmother.
I know I’m here, but I also feel like I could be anywhere.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, I will become struck with this total, all-encompassing understanding of where I am, and what it means.
I. Am. In. Sweden.
I’m with my grandma. In her home. Right now. My right hand is on this banister and my left foot is placed on this stair. This is real.
I usually don’t feel the significance of it until my grandma and I have parted—until I see her walking slowly to her room after our late lunch, or after I say good night at the end of the day and head up to my room to sleep.
This time is something I will never get to recreate. One day it will be gone.
I will eventually move on to my next experience, and my grandma, who is 86 years old, will one day die. And my walking around this house, talking with her in a mix of not always fluid Swedish and English, but a rhythm we somehow own, and buying her cigarettes with what feels like a sometimes absurd frequency, will all be a thing of the past.
A memory. A time I will look back on fondly, but one that no longer exists.
I want to embrace this experience fully, right now, rather than having my future recollections be tinged with regret for not appreciating it when I had the chance.
Our present moments become our future memories. All we really have is the moment we are currently living. I grasp it conceptually. I know it intellectually. I understand the undeniable truth of it.
Yet, it is so easy to forget and too easy to dismiss.
We rarely think about it, but if we did, it could profoundly shift how we choose to experience our lives. The right here, the right now—is everything. It’s actually all we will ever have.
The richness of every moment can only really be felt when it is happening, and yet, we spend most of our time disconnected from this truth—unable to incorporate the magnitude of it into our daily lives. We get caught up in the things we want to create and the places we want to go. We become so hyperfocused on the things of the future that we miss everything that is happening all around us.
Somehow, we become so overly preoccupied with what we want to achieve, that our current life experience feels insignificant—merely a blip on our way to something bigger and greater.
I want to be able to dream about the future, while also marveling at the exquisiteness of what’s happening to me right now. I want to be able to work for what I want to create and know that my life is heading somewhere wonderful, while also being able to taste each delightful flavor of my life right now.
I am currently sitting upstairs typing on my laptop. I just took a shower and have a fan blowing cool air on me to help dry my hair.
In about 10 minutes I’m going to go downstairs to start preparing lunch. I’ll walk past my grandmother’s room where she’s listening to her favorite summer radio program, as I head out to the freezer to grab something.
As I come back in, I’ll glance to my left and see my grandma lying in her bed, and she will, despite being mostly blind, look at me and smile.
I’ll put the food in the oven and then make my way toward the stairs, listening to the sounds of the radio drifting out of my grandma’s room as I return to doing whatever it is I feel like doing.