by Steven Reeder, CPC
At some point, we all spend perhaps more time than we should ruminating about the past, or worrying about the future. When we do this, some would say "our life is passing us by." I think those people are wrong.
Our life is in fact right there in the moment, where it always was, and it's not going anywhere. Of course, that is precisely the problem with immersing ourselves too deeply in either the past or the future. Our life isn't going anywhere and neither are we. So how can we stay present in the moment?
When I was a teenager, every KISS tour prompted the same regimented routine [which I realize today was a lot of work without the internet]: get the tour dates, find the ticket on-sale time, save up the cash, camp out at the ticket outlet, store the tickets somewhere that wouldn't get lost, and make sure I have a reliable ride to the show.
There was one more routine I had to go through every time. It was the obligatory questions from my dad. The same questions, every time: "Why are you going to see them again? What the hell is so great that you have to see it again? He's (as if KISS was a single person) gonna stick out his tongue, breathe fire, blow everything up and go home!"
What papa didn't understand was the deep feeling of gratitude inherent in those priceless moments of the concert. For whatever reason, I imprinted on KISS records. The aural quality of the electric guitars was a form of sonic power I latched onto big time. So if KISS records meant sonic power, a live KISS concert was the ultimate party of light, sound and camaraderie to celebrate that power. As Paul Stanley says, "Wooo!! Rawk and roooooll!!"
Yet, the most priceless thing about the show was that the show lasted a finite amount of time. Once they hit the stage, they would be gone again in less than two hours. In those precious few minutes, I wanted — needed — to be as present as possible, to absorb and relish every fleeting moment that would never come again (at least, not until they toured again).
This keen awareness appeared more recently with another passion of mine: roller coasters. People at amusement parks complain that they wait over an hour for a two-minute ride (as if a line was designed to take a predetermined amount of time, which the park management arbitrarily adjusts throughout the day to make you more or less perturbed). And yet, the people wait. Why? Because the experience of those two minutes of bliss are worth the privilege of waiting.
I noticed this most poignantly a few years ago. I rode roller coasters while going through some painful life circumstances at home. I knew I could have two minutes of bliss so long as I chose to be in bliss. If I was to enjoy the ride, I could dwell neither on problems of the past, nor in the apprehensions of the future. Once the train left the station, it didn't care if I enjoyed the ride or not. It will run its cycle and be done in two minutes.
I knew that if I stayed in my head while my butt was in the seat, I was going to miss all the fun. I chose to be conscious, deliberate and present for at least those two minutes. I could put my attention on what I saw: perhaps the falling and twisting horizon. I could focus on the sensations: on my hands, either gripping the bar or (more likely) the wind between my fingers high in the air; the shaking of the car underneath my pelvis; the falling in the pit of my stomach. It was then an experience not for my head, but my whole body.
Granted, not everyone finds roller coasters to be physical catalysts for bliss. Yet when we can get out of our minds and experience life as it is right now - whether we judge the present to be good or bad - we find it is truly the only real moment we can affect.
"Then how shall I plan for the future I want?" Of course the future takes planning. Rather than tasking your mind with "figuring everything out" (which is where our fears often strike us down), start with your heart and gut: what is your heart's desire, and where does your intuition guide you? Then task that keen mind of yours with creating the structure, strategy, and clarity that supports what your heart wants, and gut knows to be true. It's more than just "following your heart." All three must work together toward the same goal. I speak from experience: sometimes it's great to be out of your mind. I recommend it.
How often do you feel stuck in your head? Do you ever feel you're just coasting through life? Like everything is "fine," but you're actually out of touch with what could be better? That if you move too fast, or plan too big, the whole apple cart might spill and who's gonna save you then? Maybe this — right now — is just the right time to find out what's holding you back, and what you can do to move forward confidently. Find out how at www.stevenreeder.com/assess.