20 October 2015
“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”
“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”
“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting to-day?” said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.
~A. A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
I have a new mantra this week: One Time Only Offer.
It’s reminding me that that’s what life is. What today, and each and every day, is. What this moment, and every moment, is.
It’s really easy to feel like a lot of my moments just don’t count. I’m not on a front line, a rifle hanging in my arms, my life hanging by a thread. I don’t work in an emergency room handling a barrage of decisions that save people’s lives. I don’t rock climb or balance on a tight rope where constant focused presence is required for survival. I live an ordinary life.
But still, in my ordinary life, I don’t think there are ‘ordinary’ moments.
Yes, I get lulled into thinking this moment is exactly like so many others. Doing the grocery shopping, waiting in line at the bank, picking up the living room, doing my morning yoga. All repetitive. Where’s the specialness in all that?
A few days ago, during the same trip into town I make five or six times every week, preoccupied with appointments ahead and arranging everything on my list to fit into the schedule, it strikes me that this day, this familiar drive — it’s a one time only offer. I open the car windows. I feel the cool air breeze in. I look up and see the pine trees are glistening a bit, sparkling from the rain that fell last night. I notice how everything feels a little cleaner, fresher, than it’s felt in months. And I think — I almost missed this. This drive. This moment. All this.
My planning and scheduling evaporate. There’s a relief in bringing my attention to what’s right here right now. Sensing the air on my skin, my shoulders ease. I notice the colors creeping into the trees. I draw in a slow deep breath. I feel… joy. Like it’s been right there all along. Just waiting, patient and willing.
I know it’s this simple to be mindful, and yet I forget. Or I slip into it and then right back out of it, quick as a butterfly flitting by.
The thing is, planning and arranging are important. Organizing and thinking ahead helps things work out more smoothly. I like that. But I can also get caught up, spinning around in a loop of mental busy work or worry. I can get so fixated on lining up my ducks that I lose track of what’s here and now. The here and now steps me right out of that recirculating thought. It opens me up to my surroundings, my body, the truly current events.
Sometimes, I don’t want to think that every moment counts. I don’t really want to be reminded that there are no guarantees.
Because there’s a lot of other things I count on. I count on my husband to come home at the end of the day and love me. On my friends to want to share laughter and sorrows with me. On the money in my bank account today mostly being there tomorrow. On life as I know it continuing in the foreseeable future. I don’t want to be vulnerable to the fragility of all this. So I focus my attention on those ducks, strategizing and ordering, trying to prevent any of these things from going haywire.
Except, in big ways and small, moments will deliver surprises. In good ways. In challenging ways. In stunning, overwhelming, miraculous, discouraging, unexpected, exultant ways. Which no amount of arranging will fend off.
My best container for this so far is that I can plan for and anticipate the future, and I can count on is what’s in my hands and heart right now. Here, in this moment—this One Time Only Offer.
It’s an offer I don’t want to miss!
Repeating this mantra is helping me wiggle deeper into my present moments, touch the opportunity presented and cup my palms into the life saturating each one.