I have a hard time staying present.
I’m always thinking, planning, ready to move on to what’s next. I live through words–I read, I write. The narrator in my head keeps up a running commentary, describing every second of my day. I’m often in my head, with my thoughts and my ideas and my words. Sometimes it’s hard to come out and inhabit my body; hard to come out and engage with the people around me.
And yet I have these two small people who need me, need me to be there and to listen and to play and to help. Sometimes it is so nice to be needed. And sometimes it is exhausting.
I’m ashamed to admit that I’m often distracted, often overusing the phrases “In a minute, sweetie” and “Hang on, let me finish this first”. I love reading about mindfulness and being “in the moment”, and imagining myself one day as a mindful, meditating zen master–but it is not something that comes naturally to me. It doesn’t even come unnaturally to me. In fact, I’m finding it to be pretty damn near impossible to do.
I know I’m not alone in this. We live in the golden age of multitasking. Information is easy to come by, and most of us are grazing all day long. In less than a minute you can check your email, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds, and then answer a text on your phone. (In fact, during the time it took to get these few paragraphs written, I probably clicked out of this window at least a dozen times doing just that.) Our minds are trained to jump around at lightning speed, and trying to slow them down and focus them on a single task or a single moment is no easy feat.
Every once in a while, though, I get a glimpse. It’s as though I “wake up” and things slow down for a few seconds, and I can see my boys. I can see their sweet, soft little cheeks and their strong, never-still legs, and their little boy hands. My favorite thing in the world is watching them when they’re completely absorbed in something. I love watching them dig or stack rocks or examine ants. That concentration, that fascination–that, to me, is childhood.
So even though it seems like I’ll never get it right sometimes, I will keep trying to be there, really be there, for those moments. I don’t want to miss them.
On a scale of “I suck at it” to “Zen Master”, how are you at being in the moment?