The Ups & Downs of Living in the Moment
I’ve taken on a new practice lately of being present.
This is something I have done before. How it has gone in the past has been something like this: I’ve walked around almost as if on eggshells with a cautious serenity-the kind that says, “Here I go, I am being serene and present now. This is my new thing. No one do or saying anything to ruffle my feathers, please!”
What I am finding now is that being present isn’t always so serene. In fact, it can have a raw feel to it. There are moments of heartbreaking beauty, like sitting with an old friend and being present to my love for her. I had the opportunity to spend time last week with one of my closest friends who I now get to see only about every year and a half. We first met in college and together have experienced the wanderings and victories of college and early adulthood together. We’ve experienced each other’s heartbreak and each other’s weddings, though in different orders for each of us. We’ve held each other, both literally and metaphorically, through the birth of children and the death of parents. Last week we sat together once again and our children played around us. As I looked at her across our mugs of tea, my heart ached because I never could have known how much she would come to mean to me, that first day of class in college when I asked her name, nearly a quarter of a century ago.
With the moments of beauty there are also moments of feeling assaulted by the reality of the present. Let’s face it… it ain’t always pretty being present. That is probably why most of us avoid it so much.
Being present I see how I’ve grown numb in some relationships and have allowed myself to fade off into La La Land to avoid the discomfort or hurt of the present. To be present is to have to deal with what is not working and to have to make choices I have been avoiding by not being present.
It turns out that the problem with the present also happens to be its gift: You can’t not know what you know, once you become present to it. To be present is to presence ones self… one’s true self without the ego interfering and trying to get things to be different than they are. To be present is to accept what is and what isn’t and to simply let it be.
Sometimes the present is beautiful and sometimes, if you let it be, it is an AFGE…You know, Another “Flipping” Growth Experience, which can also be beautiful once I stop trying to get it to be something else.
So, yes, being present doesn’t mean to go around in a perfectly preserved casing and not reacting to what is. Rather, it is to be fully connected to and engaged in life as it is actually happening vs. in my fantasy of how I wish it were happening.
Bridge Builders, the hour is now! What AFGE awaits you in the present?
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This essay was created by Dr. Cristin Whiting, Psy.D: Triad Tribe author, clinical psychologist, and adjunct professor at Wake Forest University. In addition to writing for Bridges, Cristin is launching a new website and multimedia blog called The Love Tango: The Extraordinary Dance Between Sex, Love and Intimacy. Cristin also writes monthly on the topic of relationships for Dr. Lara Fernandez.com who’s tag line is “Live the life of your dreams with your soulmate by your side.” She also blogs for Triad Mom’s on Main. Beyond her writing, Cristin is the mother of two children who are the joy of her life. She also volunteers as a leadership coach, empowering others to live lives they love so they can be a contribution to their communities. Cristin currently resides in Winston-Salem and has a private psychotherapy practice.