Thursday, May 31, 2012

In the Moment...Recap and Revelations

My In the Moment experiment comes to an end today.

At the beginning of May, in an attempt to live more in the moment, I decided to use my camera as a tool to stop living so much in my head--photography requiring immediacy, eyes open to possibilities, awareness of your surroundings.

For the most part, my experiment was successful.  Almost from the beginning I found myself looking--no, seeing--more than usual.  On the daily walks with the dogs--boringly familiar, my steps following the same worn path of routine--I began to notice things: simple, beautiful, often ordinary things that made me feel awake, alert...

...I smiled at a face in a tree; a broken weather vane filled my head with a Dylan song; I lost my ticket to ride a fantasy train; carefully backed away from a demon cat

The days took on a certain sparkle, my camera swinging from the strap around my neck, the weight a comfortable reminder to keep myself focused.  My daily life morphed into something else, more a voyage of discovery than just another grain of sand dropping through the hourglass.

But halfway through the month came the test, when I opened The Box.  It seemed then that all the days prior were for naught.  I fell off the wagon and found myself face down in the dirt, sucking in the dust of all the paths I had taken in my life, with the pictures and souvenirs to prove it.  I struggled for days with the onslaught of memories, regrets, wants and wishes, do-overs and desires.  Floundering, I could barely think straight--let alone get back in the moment--while my mind was lost in the cavernous, deafening echoes of the past.

And mindfulness?  Oh, my mind was full all right.  To the brim and then some.

The purpose of meditation is to calm the mind, the spirit, to find the silence within.  I couldn't settle my thoughts long enough to find the path, and believe me I tried until I had a headache.  It's self-defeating when you try too hard to accomplish something that will only work if you let go and allow it to happen freely.

Lotus position on the floor--pushing, pulling, forcing--when this realization came like a strong wind, blowing my thoughts apart, reminding me that I know better than to compel.  My eyes popped open and immediately I felt the tension across my shoulders, in my hands, clenched and white-knuckled in my lap.  My Buddha tattoo seemed to be laughing at my foolishness.  Climbing stiffly to my feet, feeling sore to my bones, I walked into the kitchen for water.

This revelation seemed to have broken a logjam in my brain.  As I began to relax, I looked at the beauty of the landscape from my windows.  The Valley is verdant, lush, green like emeralds after all the days of rain, the mountains in the distance look like silhouettes cut from black paper, their ragged edges smudged in the heat haze.  I walked out onto the back deck, soaking it in.  

My turmoil about the past had become, at that very moment, tempered by the reality of my present.  I'm exactly the woman I am today, right now, because of the paths I've walked, the people I've known, the life I've led.  It can't be changed, altered, or erased, it just simply is.  I can only embrace what has come before, be mindful in the present, and look forward to discovering new roads to travel in my future.

I spent a long time sitting out on the deck yesterday afternoon, absorbing, feeling, making peace with myself, reviewing the month.  I'm very glad I did the experiment, and even think I may have passed the test of The Box--at least, I don't think I totally failed, though it might have been close once or twice.  It's been a most revealing and interesting time, one that has given me clarity and insight, painful as that process was. 

And simplistic as it seems--often the simplest can be the most important--I found my ultimate truth:

I am the sum of all my parts:  past, present and future.  A triad of equal value and meaning that constitutes a life.  Mine.

BTW:  Some of the photos that I took this month, if you're interested.