So much of life is about being in transition; thinking about one; creating one; anticipating one; or trying to avoid one. We do a lot of brooding during the waiting until we arrive at the next thing. We give a lot of thought to the after. To after we have reached our goal, our benchmark, our moment in the future when, “everything will be different.” These thoughts show up in our mind and sometimes sound like this…
“When I make it through this; after I finish my work week; after my youngest goes to first grade; after I lose this weight; when my kids are in college; after I retire, or my husband retires; when my life slows down…”
But when we get there, then what? When we finally arrive at this anticipated moment and we have transitioned from where we were into what we anticipated, what then? What has changed? For every transition, BIG or small, our life is marked by a before and an after. Meaning we too are marked by a before and after.
Every transition has a process, a building up to it process. It took arranging, it took securing, tying up loose ends, planning, waiting, anticipating or wondering. This building up to can be likened to a departure. We anticipate the take off, and during the whole journey we just can’t wait to land. Meaning, when we finally take off, we are then immediately anticipating our landing.
In short, we are not living in the journey.
This is most pronounced during difficult times. Very common to the human condition is an impulse to try and squeeze out of, or wriggle free from all the discomforts we are experiencing. We most commonly do this by succumbing to the distraction of preoccupied future thought and anticipatory future living. So…we all do this! You might be thinking, “Okay Laurel, what’s the big deal?”
Missed Moments are the big deal.
There are some days I stare at my 11 year old with deep contempt waiting, anticipating, hoping that this phase, this moment, this difficult heart-aching parenting moment will soon pass. And I can’t wait for her to get out the door to school, or to a friends house, or to get distracted by a book and retreat away from pinging me. But fuck, I catch myself. This is my kid. She will only be 11 years old once.
She and I are creating her childhood associations to what life should be like. She and I are creating her experiences to what her relationship with her mother felt like. So, in the effort to not miss another a moment, I call her back. I let go of my defending. I fight to stay present, and I pull her toward me. I inhale the sweet smell of the top of her head that is unique to this child of mine. I stay in the journey with her rather then waiting for her to be gone to finally feel good. I choose this difficult moment to be here and I choose all the small little difficult moments to be present with my challenging, annoying, and totally irritating children because I do sweat the small stuff as a parent. It’s the small stuff that allows for moments where we can show up and be our best. But if I just couldn’t wait till she left and I swept this one under the rug, well then, I missed a moment… and that doesn’t sit well with me in my parenting journey.
We never get these years back and we don’t know what will happen tomorrow so why not, cozy up to the present and get curious about what is happening in the moment.
I totally understand that this sometimes feels like mission impossible. But the other mission impossible is getting life’s missed moments back. So all this mindfulness jargon, and staying in the present crap, is really a movement centered around saving us heartache. Saving our future self the heartache of looking back with regret on missed moments that are totally and completely missed due to our self imposed preoccupation with future projections and anticipations.
Enjoy the ride.
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