Sometimes, no matter how hard I try, I just can't seem to feel present.
Over the years, I've learned many ways to feel more present. Most of them have to do with coming back to my basic senses — sight, sound, breathing. Eventually, something that is here catches my attention in a way that "wakes me up," and I remember where I am. That can sound almost meaningless written down, but as an experience it is profound. I am here. I am. When I come to this realization — experientially, not only conceptually — I feel an infinite weight fall off of my shoulders of things I had been carrying which literally do not exist, except in my mind. When I truly receive these little reminders that I am here and nowhere else, I am able to let go of all of the "somewhere else's" I had been holding onto in my mind in the way one holds onto a math equation, or a story in their head.
We can spend a lifetime of energy — our energy — creating stories in our head. But we are made to create real things in the real world. In order to be what we are, we have to be here. We have to be. I am learning to do this.
But sometimes, no matter how hard I try, I just can't seem to find my way back. I can't seem to feel present.
It's as if I am sitting here, looking for the things which usually "wake me up," trying to see or hear or feel them, but there's this large... "thing" in the way. I'm trying to look around it, but I can’t.
That’s where I am as I type these words.
My sense in this moment is that this "thing" that I'm treating as an obstacle to my being here may actually be a signpost leading me to where I am. And I think I know why I can't seem to see it as an opportunity, much less define what "it" is: I'm afraid of it.
A few months ago I invested in something which I thought would have paid off by now. Two weeks ago I started to think about what will happen if it doesn't pay off. I started to feel panic and scarcity. Fear.
When I am afraid, I can't hear the birds or see the sky. I can only see the thing of which I am afraid. It is so big that it blocks my view of almost everything else. And it feels almost impossible to be where I am. To be present.
Could it be that the "thing" blocking my view is fear? No. That's not it. Look closer. Fear would have me look away. Look at it instead.
Oh. The "thing" blocking my view is me. More specifically — and importantly — it is a part of me.
Have I not wanted to look at what is blocking my view because I am afraid? Or is it because I am ashamed?
"I don't want to be afraid."
"Haven't I been learning about fear and presence for years now? Shouldn’t I be past this?"
"How weak, to not be able to hear the birds just because of a fear."
"This is stupid. You shouldn't feel this way. Just try harder. Look around it..."
"No, I am here. And I am afraid." This is the voice of a child. A child who is afraid. Do I really want to ignore the voice of a scared child… even if that scared child is me, or a part of me?
This feels especially important: I am not afraid; a part of me is afraid.
We can be so quick to immediately identify with a negative emotion, or any emotion. I am afraid... I am angry... I am sad... I am excited. But there is a deeper "I" that encompasses — holds — all of these parts. Ignoring any of the parts disconnects us from the whole. Ignoring any part of myself leads to an existence which is not whole. Or real. Or present.
This "thing" blocking me from feeling present right now is the way for me to be present.
So, in this moment, as I type these words, part of me, I am looking directly at you. I see you. I see that you're afraid about things running out. I appreciate how much you care about having enough. I know you've worked yourself to the bone for 43 years to make sure I have had enough. I am not asking you to leave — you are allowed to be here. You are allowed to be afraid here. And, I invite you now to come sit next to me and look...
I can see the trees. I can hear the birds. The squirrels! They're insane — playing and running and flipping around. I feel thankful and abundant. I feel whole. I feel present.