Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience. It isn't more complicated that that. It is opening to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without either clinging to it or rejecting it. - Sylvia Boorstein
The call came in the middle of the night. Well, actually, it wasn’t in the middle of the night at all. It was more like 10:00, but I had been asleep for at least a good 15 minutes by then so time was relative. Who could be calling at this ungodly hour? Unable to rouse ourselves, we opted to let it ring through to the machine.
A few moments later it started again. The ringing. This time we were prepared. My husband’s tone took a turn towards the serious. His voice pausing as he spoke. One of his faculty was gone. A beloved teacher, coach and mentor. A father, a partner a friend.
I went back in time. I couldn’t help it. It was as if I had no choice. I had stepped aboard a train that was destined to take me back to that day when I took that very same call. That day in July when my life changed forever.
I guess that’s one of the things that happens as you get older. Finality stares you right in the eyes. You come to realize that you have been lucky to get this far and there is no guarantee of what is to come. You just don’t know when the phone will ring.
How do you stay in the present? How do you stop looking ahead? Wondering what tomorrow will bring? Wishing for the day when you’re richer or thinner or happier? When filling in the blank isn’t something you’re doing tomorrow but something you consciously do every day. Someday I want to learn to speak Italian. Someday I want to go to Australia. Someday.....
A year and a half ago, I was laid off from my job. After 30 years of being in the work force, I joined the roles of the unemployed. It was a strange thing to listen to the news and hear the statistics on unemployment and realize they were talking about me. Having never been through that before, I was ill prepared for what was to come. I did know one thing. I wanted to love what I did again. Somewhere along the road I had stopped doing what I loved in favor of what I knew how to do.
“When one door closes, another one opens,” a friend told me as I frantically searched for what was next. “Look for the open door.”
I ate a breakfast burrito this morning. I love to eat. We need food to survive but it's never been about that for me. Perhaps it’s the Italian upbringing. Perhaps it's the fact that everything in my entire childhood involved food or thinking about food in one form or another. We ate when we were happy. We ate when we were sad. We ate to celebrate. We ate to mourn. We even ate to pray.
I ate my burrito at 11:30 a.m. I was checking email on my computer and I was multitasking. I am expert at multitasking. Aren’t most women? The problem was, I didn’t really taste the burrito. I’m sure it was good. But I didn’t taste it. Mindfulness doesn’t come naturally to me.
The beauty of owning a dog (or two) is that they force you into the present. They look at you so lovingly as they jump up to greet you when you walk in the door. “Welcome home,” they say. “We’ve missed you.” And then, “Please pet us. We’ve been waiting so patiently for your return. You owe us.” And you have to reach out your hand because if you don’t give them your undivided attention, they will jump on you and leave paw prints on your work clothes.
We don’t know when the call will come. For each of us, the challenge is to live each day like there is no tomorrow. Do what we love, learn Italian, travel to Australia, pet the dog and for God sakes, taste the burrito.