About a week ago, I was sitting at my usual bar, having a drink with a friend. As we sat there, I found my mind wandering to all sorts of different things: work I needed to do, my kids, etc. Important things, sure, but things unrelated to the current activity. I was anxious about the thoughts that distracted me, even though I had decided, by agreeing to meet the friend I sat with, that I wasn’t going to do anything about them for awhile.
So, I sat back, took a sip of my drink, and looked across the table at my friend and said to myself:
Be here, now.
Sounds pretty simple. And it is, really.
But if you’re anything like me, it doesn’t take more than a moment or two for my mind to run away down some rabbit hole involving work, responsibility, and similar adult things. As often as it occurs to me, I have to give myself deliberate instructions to focus on what’s happening right in front of me.
There will always be problems and parts of life that need your attention. There will always be something else you should be doing that you’re not.
It’s about maintaining perspective.
Whispering that little exhortation to myself didn’t just jar me back into the moment. I also became aware that the person across the table from me was giving of his time to spend time with me. He cares about me and I care about him. We’re doing that quality time thing that friends do and that everybody’s always so hopped up about.
Anxiety about work, my insecurities as a parent, the sink full of dishes — it was all there when my pal and I wrapped up for the evening. Nothing exploded and I walked away from our friendly visit glad that I could call this guy a pal.
Here in the US, tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. Most of my fellow Americans and I will be stuffing our faces full of too much food, falling asleep on the couch at 4pm, and quietly hoping Uncle Jimbo takes it easy on the wine this year.
If you find yourself getting antsy or bored or cranky, I’d humbly suggest that you stop, take a breath, and look around the room.
Chances are, you’ll be near somebody you don’t see very often. Talk to that person.
If you’re staring at a football game and don’t really care much for football, ask the football fan in the room a question about football.
That weird Uncle? Think of something you don’t know about him and ask him about it.
You get the idea.
Wherever you are, be fully there. Be present.
None of life’s challenges are going anywhere, trust me.
(Photo courtesy of Rhett Sutphin)