The same way I forget to be present in the small adventures of everyday life.
|Dear Diary: 21/10/06, a photo by kiwanja on Flickr.|
Each week I am blessed: conversations with friends, a special ice cream cone, a startling passage from a book. Each time I make the choice, "Will I be present, or will I obsess about past experiences, the calories, or the next exciting insight?"
One way I choose to be present is to journal. In one sense this activity means ignoring the experiences around you as you record the past—that's not what I'm talking about. What I mean is using your gift, whether that be writing or drawing or sculpting or composing or whatever, and using it to capture the place or state of mind you are in.
As you've probably guessed, I love to write. If I were to journal about this moment to practice being present, it would look something like this:
Rolling down the road in the dark between jobs, I hear Aaron's music leaking out from his earbuds, the rhythmic thumping of old pavement, and watch the glare of pink and blue streetlights slip over my skin. Holding this slim iPod and typing away on the minuscule keyboard, I marvel at the Promethean marvel of modern technology. Mom and Dad chat in the front seat. They're happy tonight; tired, but happy.There, more or less, I've captured the sights and sensations of riding in the car with my family on a typical Tuesday night. It's short and simple, but helps me pay attention to what is really going on.
Take a minute to free-write about what you're going through right now, or draw a picture, or sing a song. Look at yourself from a long way away, and take it all in. Practice presence by getting a 360° view of your situation. Enjoy this time for what it is, not for what it might be.
While I'm on this trip I'm going to keep looking for zest and purpose in new, strange places, and share what I learn. If you want to keep up with the nitty-gritty of my European travels, check out thebritophilediaries.blogspot.com.