Transitions aren’t easy. As we straddle the past and the future, we create a bridge between the two. In between is where all the changes happen. What’s interesting is that each change takes place in the present moment and if we tune into that, things go more smoothly. When we bring our awareness to where we are instead of where we’ve been or where we’re headed, life can feel profoundly simple.
Since I’m living nomadically, I have to anchor myself in the present because it’s all I have. I cannot lean into anything or anyone because I’m always letting go. It can be disorienting to live this way, especially since being caught up in the future-driven, goal-oriented lifestyle is the norm. So life sometimes spins around me doing it’s frantic dance, while I stand in the center observing. I’m always the new kid in town: tapping away at my computer in the local café, taking a walk in neighborhood I’ve never explored, sleeping in a bed in the home of people I’ve just met, driving my van down a strange new road, buying my smoothie ingredients in the local market, etc. I’m always just arriving or soon to be leaving….breezing in and breezing right back out with the wind.
This is why I’ve learned to savor the present moment, because I’m more acutely aware how quickly it passes never to return. When I’m with people, I’m hyperaware of the temporariness of it and invest in each moment more deeply. I inhale and ingest it all, the rich perfume and delectable flavor, knowing that soon it will be over and I will have moved on. The death of the moment is for a nomad, an ever-present companion that keeps one’s wits sharp and one’s appreciation tuned.
Trying to grab onto the moment to forestall its inevitable demise, is a harsh lesson in futility. It is akin to holding onto sand with clenched fists. It accomplishes nothing but amplified agony and sorrow. Better to embrace the fluidity and impermanence head-on, hugging it like a friend who’s stopped by for a drink. Clink your glasses loud, toast the meeting and relish the silence that follows your friend’s departure.
We are ultimately alone in all of this. In our transitions. In our attachments. In our silence. In our holding on...in all of it, alone.
I’ve had to train myself to be fully present, but not attached, grateful, but not needing anything more, open, but not without boundaries. Had I known there would be so much letting go, I don’t know if I would have set out on this seemingly endless journey. But really my travels are simply a good metaphor for life. We are all given a certain allotment of breaths and none of us knows just how many that is. We do our best to maximize our use of them, but so often many of those breaths are painfully wasted and frittered away with meaningless chatter and activities. We become lulled into complacent thinking and believe our time to be boundless and trick ourselves into believing it doesn’t matter if we wander around aimlessly avoiding people, places and things that really matter. There’s always tomorrow, we tell ourselves. Next time, we say, we’ll do that next time.
But what if there is no next time?
What would happen if we really woke up to the fact that we don’t have forever and a day to use our creative gifts, spend time with loved ones or really make a difference in other people’s lives? How would feel about all those wasted days and hours then? Days and hours that cannot be retrieved. What then? Why does it take a crisis to see our limited time here for what it really is—a gift that was meant to be honored and cherished, not used up or spent like someone else’s money?
Waking up means seeing what’s around us right here, right now and not swept away by the slideshow of our minds, which are constantly working hard to distract us from the moment. We could literally lose all of our lives to busyness and feel as though we’d missed the whole show. It would be like buying tickets to an expensive play that we were really looking forward to, but then spending the majority of the show in the lobby talking on our cell phone. So many people go through life distracted by a myriad of outer energy-sucking tasks and people, that they never really enjoy living or even have a moment to really see or listen to what’s happening around them.
It takes facing death or an accident or loss of someone close sometimes to shake us out of our slumber into a waking awareness of what it means to be alive and available to what is. It’s a daily practice or discipline to keep awake. So much is working against us to pull us under into a sleepy, unconscious way of being, we must shake ourselves awake and remove ourselves from the daily barrage of outer input.
Stillness is the medicine that calms the soul, heals the suffering and opens the way to a deeper presence. Silence and quiet create space for the little soul whispers that help us tune into the inner well of wisdom that nourishes and stabilizes us. Feeling scattered and frantic is a sure sign that something’s amiss and it’s time to stop the craziness, unplug the madness and jump off the merry-go-round into the silence once more.
Without this quiet within us, we will always run around chasing glittery rainbows that promise us gold and magic, but don’t feed and sustain us. Better to chose peace while diving into the mystery, for therein lies the real gems, the authentic tools that give us a life worth living and a way to celebrate each and every breath.