Yesterday I drove to our new favorite Brooklyn beach with Elisa and our dear friend, Becky. This song came on just as we crossed the Marine Parkway Bridge, temps fell dramatically nearing the water, and the smell of ocean flooded the car.
I sang loudly and danced while driving, wind in my hair, smiling from ear to ear, excited to be headed to my happy place: the beach. It dawned on me my present moment attention.
Sheer joy coursed through my veins, all seemed right in the world.
But was it?
What had changed, really?
The climate of the world had not changed, our own racial discord here in the US, of course, was the same, the unrest over health in my family still lingered, even my own stress over work/life was ever present.
So what happened?
One simple answer: Presence.
I was present with the music, my company, the scenery, the love. And yes, in that place, in that moment, all was right in my world.
It is when we ruminate about the past or consistently stress about the future that we miss those delicious moments of present joy. We even feel guilty over them, dismissing them completely.
Mindfulness teaches us to come back to the present, time and time again, throughout the day, stringing more of those moments of joy together at a time.
The best time to think about all those things we want to do, change or fix is when we’re doing, changing or fixing them, NOT when we’re far away from the resources to do so.
In that moment, on this drive, I had one job: Enjoy! To do anything else would be a disservice to the world, as I see it.
We do ourselves, or anyone else for that matter, zero favors by stressing about that which we’re not working to change. Our suffering doesn’t save a soul.
Had I allowed my mind to escape from the moment, as it constantly does, I could have easily been in a different place: worried about a bill, stressing about my ever-increasing to-do list, lost in thought about who knows what, missing all that opportunity to be happy for no real reason.
And yet the lure of stress is forever tearing us away from peace. Our guilt over quietude is creating ever more noise. Saving no one, including ourselves.
Years ago I began hunting for these moments of happiness. I needed the proof that life was a positive place, a supportive one, that the Universe was on my side.
I began to see that I had a choice: I could choose fear or I could love, and nearly every moment came down to that simple yet powerful choice.
Last night we got a call from a friend. She’d been crying all day and felt shaky. She hadn’t heard from her new boyfriend and was beginning to worry that perhaps things wouldn’t work out after all. In fact, she’d concocted all in her head that it wouldn’t. She was devastated at the thought.
Devastated at the thought … have you been there? Me too.
We do this to ourselves all the time. But why? A protective mechanism, I imagine. Some way to prepare ourselves, just in case.
Sounds crazy, right?
And yet this is our life when we’re not present, riding the wave of one illusory thought over another. It’s no wonder we’re all so stressed.
I have a new game: Mindfulness Go!
In this game we hunt out happiness. We string together moments of love, joy, peace, hope. We crowd out our anxious inner dialogue.
We prove to ourselves and others that the Universe is a friendly one, that life is begging us to be better all the time, that happiness is within our reach, especially when we’re willing to hunt for it!
I leave you with this: Go!