When I was a child, it was always about the next thing. My childhood was often unhappy, and the next thing was always the hope that it would be better. A cold silence would melt into words, open hostility would simmer back down to a lower boil. I’d get to the bottom of my pile of paperbacks, and play my Billy Joel records. And finally, I’d be grown up and not always leaning toward next.
But I ‘ve found the practice of presence in the current moment is not easy. I was wired early on to peer over the next fence, and our culture gives me a boost. It’s all about better and faster, more and more, and your body may be one place but your mind and heart, soul and spirit, aren’t necessarily where you plant your shoes.
But last night, I was where I was. Seated at a table with friends, sharing an impromptu crab cake dinner. We passed the dishes and ate, laughed and passed them again. There was good food, there were the faces around the table, and I was all there. With all my senses, with my thoughts, I wasn’t even leaping ahead to writing this post, I simply was. And it was good. When we got home, I gathered up our huge cat and cuddled her on my lap, petting her to hear her loud purr. And I was all there too.
The patient is getting better.
There is a place for my forward-looking, for planning and hopes for the future, for best-case scenarios and just-in-case arrangements. But I’m learning to long for more here and now, the grace of twilight coming into a kitchen over dear faces, plates scraped clean and the last of the dark chocolate, melting on my tongue.