I sometimes send the birthday message, “I hope there are great things on the horizon.” In the past, used to even draw this image as the end to a letter. It looked like this. I have thought little about the implications of the words I used.
A few years ago I was running with Ricky. We were climbing a long hill, when he said, “We are almost there.” I am not sure whether I was angry that he is constantly two steps ahead of me when running, or that I felt justified in my argument, but with my breathless yet direct tone, I panted, “We are never there. There is always there. And we are always here.” And then I found this video and it will forever crack me up. I think I even wrote about this on the old blog. But it’ comes up again and again. So it’s a valid revisit.
When we think of the horizon, it seems to be forever, “there.” A half day away, or metaphorically a week away, a half year away, five years, ten years a whole lifetime if we don’t snap out of it. We look forward to the end of the day, or the week, the long weekend, the holiday, the summer. We start saying things like, “When _______ then I will be happy.” Or, worse, “When _______ I will be able to breathe." The future lures our thoughts out of the present moment and into The Not.
The Not, being the place made up of excitement, fear, anxiety, what-ifs, all, and make believe. Dr. Seuss had his own version, called The Waiting Place. So what is the balance between getting prepared, ready and remaining present? I am not writing to give you the magic formula. I haven’t quite figured that one out yet. This morning I was listening to another Podcast however, For When You: Want to Break the Rules. And the guest of the show suggested that we look at all the events in life, and just that. Parts of life. We can get excited about the future, we can plan for the future, we can try to peer in, but at the end of the day, you have no control of how it’s going to unfold. Best to spend your time practicing how it unfolds in real time. Two feet on the ground. While you may be peering out to the horizon, just keep in mind. Real life only happens once. Forever fleeting moments of nows. Piles and piles of fading nows.
Look around, there are millions of miracles happening as far as you can see. Even if there is no horizon in sight.
Like it is - According to Vail
I am a natural born planner. I get a feeling of exhilaration when I am able to check something off my to do list, something I have carefully planned and executed. When I am daydreaming, you can bet that it is always about the next vacation, the next yoga class, my next meal.
My husband is the exact opposite. Often on a weekend morning, he will be reminded of a plan, but commitments and to dos for him are not mandatory. There is a flexibility to his day that I had never imagined possible.
So, opposite attract and hopefully opposites rub off on each other a bit.
Over the past few years, I have developed a meditation practice and have really begun to appreciate the power and joy in living in the present. I have tried to reel my brain back from the future and ground it in today. Rather than letting my mind ruminate during those day dreams, I have learned to tap into my breath and really see what is happening: feel my dogs’ soft fur, notice the brilliant blue sky and smile.
This has left this natural-born planner with a question. Who is living right, my husband or me? Maybe there is an even better question. Can you be a little of both?
Though living in the present moment has and needs to take a bigger space in my life, I am not necessarily going to chuck my planner in the trash. Also, I often think about the compassion I bring to myself when thoughts creep in during meditation. It is ok to have thoughts. It is natural to want to plan. So, keep that planner. Make plans that will bring you joy, bring you strength or whatever you may be wanting to feel in your life. However, I have two tips as you being to fill those empty pages with plans.
Be all there for what you have planned. If you have been planning that trip to Italy, in your mind since you tasted your first slice of pizza, when you get there, be there. Take in the moments with all of your senses. Smell the freshly cooked pasta, feel the Prosecco on your tongue and notice everything you see as you stumble down a cobblestone street.
Be open to throw away the plan completely. Life and plans sometimes don’t turn out as we think they will. So, don’t stay attached to the plan if it doesn’t feel right. If we are back in Italy and it is raining on the day you carefully planned to go to the beach. Throw that plan away, cozy up in the nearest café and let life happen.
Planning and presence might not need to be up against each other in the ring. Maybe they complement each other perfectly when used wisely.