About 8 years ago, I started in earnest on my journey of “self-discovery”. At that time, I was in my doctoral program at the University of St. Thomas. One of the tenets of the program encouraged us to deepen our understanding of self and really focus on self-awareness. A component of my self-awareness journey was deepening my understanding and practice of mindfulness (Jon Kabat-Zinn’s work) and living a positive, affirmative life (Louise Hay’s work).
As I began this process, I thought, “I got this; I have been working on my self-awareness, living in present moment for some time and I think I am pretty good at it 😉” Little did I realize that I had a bigger gap than I thought I had ☹. On a commute to work, one morning in I became “aware” of my “unawareness”!
On my commute to work (which, at that time, I had been driving daily for about 11 years) I was listening to Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindful Meditation series. He was commenting that, “we call ourselves “human beings”, but we should call ourselves, “human doings”. He stated, “we keep our self so busy “doing, doing, doing” that we don’t have time to even be aware of our surroundings.” He asked, “how many times do we see a sight and say to ourselves, “wow, that is so beautiful when did that beautiful building get built…only to realize that the building had been there for about 50 years….” At that moment, I was awestruck by a gorgeous oak tree that was on the side of the road (on 694 east right before the Lexington Avenue exit). It took my breath away. It was the most beautiful tree I had ever seen. This tree is GORGEOUS. It is perfectly shaped. It looks like a giant bonsai tree. I realized that I had just experienced the very thing he was talking about.
From that moment on, this tree became a powerful symbol for me of my connection to the universe. It was a symbol of strength. It was a symbol of how we “humanity” are all connected to one another. It was also a reminder for me to be present; to live in the here and now. That moment, I realized by not truly living in the present moment I miss out on the beauty and wonder of all that life has to offer. Life is “here and now”. Life happens moment by moment. I realized that the little things in life; they are not “little things”.
After that moment, the moment I became acquainted with “my tree” 😊, I look forward each day, on my way to work, to see/experience the tree. It serves as a reminder to me of being present; of relishing each moment I am given each day. On the days that I am do not travel 694 East, I visualize my tree. It is a powerful symbol and reminder to me to truly live in the NOW.
My challenge to you is to find something that prompts you to stay in the present; etch it in your mind’s eye. It just may be what you need to remind yourself that, “wherever you go; there you are”. The present is a beautiful place to be. It is a gift. The past is behind us and the future is not guaranteed. Live life fully; live in the “here and now”.
Have a GREAT day!