It’s been 6 months.
7, really, since I started in December 2012 with my resolution of being present. I have to say, being present is the year of royal suckage.
I said I would be present, and the Universe snickered and said “boy, will you.”
Things I have learned:
1. Joy is bigger.
This weekend, I told my daughter for the 20th time – “Remember this moment. Look around. Breathe in. Smell the smells, listen to the sounds. Freeze this moment in your mind so that when you’re fifty, you remember this summer day, barefoot on a gravel path, surrounded by cicadas and trees and the smell of summer on every lead.”
She rolled her eyes, but I hope she does remember. The joy is bigger. The experience is more.
I’ve been watching The Big C. Cathy finds some ecstasy that her students left in class and she decides that since she’s dying of cancer anyway, she might as well take it. So she does. Everything is magnified – the sounds are bigger, the stars are brighter, the feel of the grass beneath her sets every nerve on fire.
I’ve never done ecstasy, but I think being present feels a little bit like that… Sometimes.
2. Pain is more painful.
I sat with two friends as they lost their children. I wept for them. I yelled at the sky. The pain is bigger now, there’s more details, there’s more feeling. My whole heart feels like it might explode.
And not just my pain… the pain I see in other people. I watch a girl from across a restaurant, playing darts with her date. I watch her and I see smiles hiding deep pain. Eyes that won’t trust because they have seen too much. My own eyes fill watching her in her charade of fun, and I whisper a prayer for her. For her pain. She might not be present in her pain, but not being present really doesn’t make it go away. You think it does, but it doesn’t. It just masks it.
I see an adult throwing a temper tantrum. My judgment rises like bile in my throat, but gulping, I realize it is pain. A tender nerve has been touched. A painful wound ripped open. She is in pain and I feel it knotting up my own stomach.
3. Being present is a gift.
I speak to a stranger on the phone. We are talking about work and I ask her how her summer has been. She pauses for too long and her pain spills out. Her lover died recently, tears fall on her end of the phone and on my end as well.
She tells me their story. She tells me she loved him and that there was so much left unsaid between them. She says “I wasn’t fucking ready for him to leave!” with such vehemence, we both quiet. Her heart has been talking and she realizes she has said more than she intended. I think about her for days later. I wonder how she has handled her grief. If it keeps her up at night. If she has regrets, if she would have done anything differently.
Bring present with her reminds me that there are things left unsaid in my own life. Things put off for another day, another free moment. But moments aren’t free and words should be spoken, not hidden away in cobwebbed corners of our hearts.