Technology is our future, never our present.
With increasing flows of information via social media outlets, our brains become tethered to the “What’s next? Where’s this going?” rocket ship. We can go from curiosity to fascination to boredom in a matter of minutes and then onto The Next Big Thing. Suddenly, we realize we have just spent 30 minutes chasing the “Who? What? Gotta find out…” mindset. In those 30 minutes we have just spent our life immersed in another reality, most often evoking either the past or the future but rarely the NOW and HERE. I experienced all of these with the hurricane.
We breathe, swallow, our blood flows through our body, our food gets digested and wastes get processed. Yet mentally we are not present in our own time. We live between experiences, not with the experiences. We look forward to the weekends but then we have to get from Monday to Saturday. We may look at those “between” days as just fill-in time until the really interesting parts begin. We become uncoupled from what is going in our life at that time.
Part of what feeds this is our constant comparing of events to what it was like the last time we did XYZ and that becomes the measurement on which we base our comparisons. Sometimes we even start the “Well, it was good/bad last time and I’m sure/not sure it’s going to be any different this time.” It is so easy to become fixated or enamored (and judgemental) with the past or the future but it is much harder to focus and be present to what is happening right now in front of us. The reason this is so important is because the present is all that we truly have. And what the we do in the present becomes the basis for the future. Our decisions, our mindset, our actions ALL birth and feed the future. In Buddhism they talk about monkey mind and how that creates suffering because you suffer twice for the price of once: the first time thinking about it and the second time actually living it. Not a bargain I want!
Example: This hurricane has been building for a couple of weeks as it was tracked across the ocean. On Sunday, the weather station said our area was most likely to get hit after it made landfall. We took stock of what we had at home and at work and made a trip to the store to buy what we lacked. The stores were crammed with people buying supplies, getting gas and keeping a concerned eye on the news. The mood was one of anxious anticipation with some competing on who had the latest update. I got on my phone to “check” the latest reports and all of a sudden I was not in the store noting the sleepy child behind me or the woman hurriedly unloading all her supplies onto the check-out station and dropping some items which rolled under the counter. Instead, I was seeing the hurricane as viewed from the space station. Deadly fascinating. I suddenly realized I had zoned out for about 10 minutes (the line wasn’t moving very fast). Later that evening the hurricane changed its trajectory and we would be spared the worst part of it. I felt relief and at the same time disappointment. I had bought items to wait out the weather and mentally prepared to shut down for a few days and then it was back to rainy overcast days with flooding possibilities, which has pretty much been the theme of this summer here in Virginia.
I experienced Hurricane Fran in Cary, North Carolina in 1996 and even with preparations it was overwhelming. I had broken my ankle 10 days earlier and was wearing a cast and not very mobile. I remember waking up around midnight and being aware of how quiet it was – the eye was going over us. After a while the wind and rain picked back up and you could the trees falling around us. Amazingly our house was spared from falling trees but our neighbors were not as lucky. Several had parts of their homes crushed, but thankfully no one was hurt. We were without power for over a week and some of our friends were without electricity for over 2 weeks. We were located on top of a hill and didn’t experience flooding of our house but some parts of our subdivision flooded from a nearby creek. That along with all the downed trees made it tricky, if not impossible to get in and out to the main road for several days.
Each storm is different and brings different variables to play as far as damage done. I must admit, scenes from that time played out in my head. And I had to remind myself that that was then, this is now. I had to stop constantly monitoring the news because it fed too easily into “What if…? “and that can be debilitating and another way to disengage from the present. It was so easy to end up thinking about the “What ifs?” and to neglect the “What nows?” I focused on what needed to be done right now to move forward certain projects and priorities. I made time to pray and send Reiki to those now in the path of the storm because that was the NOW I was living. I was in contact with friends and family members to see how they were doing. That became the basis for my future without feeding into being somewhere else. It required constant tending at first but then it got a little easier to focus on what really mattered: the now. Why be anyplace else?
May the storm lessen, move on quickly and those in its way stay safe.