Lately I’ve been focussed on “living in the moment.” I like the simplicity of it – Less concern for the past and less worry about the future. Those are attractive ideals that implicate a less stressful existence. I want a less stressful existence. Who wouldn’t? So, with a simpler life in mind, I set out awhile ago in pursuit of a life comprised of a string of moments rather than a comprehensive plan for the future In order to be more intentional and conscious, I put more effort into daily meditation (I have practiced mindfulness for awhile but had always been a bit sporadic). I slowed the pace of life down and tried hard to appreciate every breath, every sensation, every moment. I looked at each instant with less judgment and every judgment with less, well, judgment. When I was tired, I rested. When I was hungry, I ate. You get the idea. While it’s impossible to function without an awareness that we all do indeed have a past and that life is constantly marching headstrong into a future, it was refreshing to allow less direct impact from either.
I have always appreciated the relative simplicity of a dog’s life. Taking our dog, Sophie, out for a hike personifies a life spent squarely in the moment. If you have followed my Instagram posts, you have seen my “squirrel!” dispatches. These posts cast dogs in the role of protagonist and the squirrel as the antagonistic, “moment.” No matter what Sophie (or any dog for that matter) is doing, they are in the moment – seeking, recognizing or pursing the squirrel at all times. This analogy is useful right up until the moment the dog catches the squirrel. The general assumption at this point would be victory. However, have you seen a dog that catches the squirrel? The reaction is not always one of conquest. In fact, there is often an air of disappointment and confusion. For a brief second it seems as if the poor puppy is in fact stuck in the moment – unsure of what to do when the moment is no longer the inspiration it once was. On second thought, maybe the analogy is still relative?
In my attempts to live within the moment, I experienced a similar, “catching the squirrel” experience. I sat briefly in disappointment and confusion as the reality of the moment set in. I too was “stuck.” What is the play when we find that the moments in life are indeed constructed of the past and influenced by the future and that we’re neither happy with nor inspired by either? Do we simply maintain disciplined intent, adhering to the original ideals of mindfulness, or do we recognize the displeasure and seek change? Can we be both mindful and progressive at the same time?
For dogs, the confusion quickly passes at the realization that the world is chock full of squirrels. They simply keep hiking and having fun, confident that life will soon provide another skilled tree climbing rodent to chase. Unfortunately for me, I need more than the next squirrel. And so the analogy finally ends. Though I will continue to hike and to have fun, I know also that I must take a certain responsibility in creating the moments necessary for my own happiness. It is essential to remain mindful of the moments while also participating in the architecture of my life. That is tricky but I’m trying. This blog is a step down that path, allowing me to explore my ideas in expressive and creative ways. I’m aware of my position. I know I am stuck in the moment. Awareness in the first step. The next step will include further exploration of ideals and principles intended to… “squirrel!!!”