You know that phrase, ‘live in the moment’? That’s hard to do, because in order to live it one has to realize that the moment is occurring, and to appreciate it, but then reject analysis of it and just be in it. You have to simultaneously acknowledge and deny, or activate and withdraw consciousness, and that takes time. By the time you figure out what is happening and that this is the moment you are living in, the moment is gone.
Some would argue that the point of living in the moment is NOT being aware or conscious of what’s going on and how you are reacting to it, but I contend that just existing at a given time is not really living; in order to truly live, one must have some awareness of one’s role in that life, even if the understanding of the moment is skewed, subconscious, or recognized only in retrospect. In order to fully realize the implication’s of Hamlet’s famous question, one really has to figure out what it means to be before one can decide whether or not it’s better not to be.
So, yeah, that’s what I think.
Being active in my day to day life isn’t all that easy, on account of lots of times I tune out and go on auto pilot, or let one of my alternate personalities come out (I have two main alters, Doo Doo Brown and The Baby. Have I told you about them? Is that weird? Well, anyway, this post isn’t about them, so maybe I’ll write about them another time.) It’s hard to be present in what you are doing and with whom you are dealing. It’s like driving to work. You get in the car, you turn on the radio, you think about the day ahead, and then you are there, but the actual drive, and perhaps more importantly, the driving; that’s all just a faded blur. Especially if you are drunk.
I think the not paying attention is because often we are preoccupied and think that whatever is in our heads is more important than what is in front of our faces, and our inner lives are interesting, while reality is boring. This is probably true for most people, but often I find myself thinking about cheese, or colors, or what ‘lorn’ means (forlorn, lovelorn), or if dogs have appendixes, or if sharks sweat, or why, if I am so cute in person, do I look like a cross between a rabbit, a shark, and a doberman in photos. For people like me, there is a chance that if I paid attention to what is going on in the world around me, or, better still, if I actually took part in it, I might learn something.
Hence Thursday’s goal.
Opportunities for engagement presented themselves almost immeadiately.
When Atticus woke me up at the crack of dawn for our morning walk, I tried to see things as he did. When he stopped to sniff, I sniffed, too. There is honeysuckle growing by my neighbors trash can. Mmmm! Smells good! And also, stinks like reeking trash in the hot sun! Delightful juxtaposition of olfactory truths, non?
When Atticus went into the high grass to pee, I went into the high grass too, but not to pee, because I didn’t have to go just then. Guess what? I addition to honeysuckle in the ally, we also have poison something growing! It rakes your flesh and immediately angry red welts spring up on your arms and legs. Also, something scary lives in the tall grass, and it makes a fast rustling sound when it moves! Another adventure for another day!
Atticus takes time to smell the roses
I took the time to chat with fellow dog walkers, something I normally cross the street or duck into an alley to avoid.
“Hey! How ya doin’ today? Not too hot yet, right?” Atticus met Odette, Eddie, Speckles and Madison. I talked to my neighbors and heard stories I thought were interesting (mostly) and sometimes poignant, all in the span of five minutes. One man had just had twins (named Austin and Dallas – really!), and said that walking the dog was his only chance to escape them during the day. I asked what his wife did for escape, and he said she got the afternoon and evening walks. The dog (Madison – I sense a theme in this dude’s naming strategy!) looked very tired.
One man told about how he found Eddie and felt so sorry for the flea ridden, mangy puppy that showed up starving in his backyard one day that he not only decided to keep him, but he slept outside on the porch with him for a week until Eddie’s skin condition cleared up enough for him to come into the house. Eddie is three now, and walks without a leash, right by the man’s side. He is very friendly with people and dogs, and Eddie and his owner, who is probably in his late 60’s, walk two miles every day. He (the man, not Eddie) invited me to a dog party on his front lawn to celebrate the 4th of July.
Jenny carries Speckles. He was her kids’ dog, and now the kids are gone and so are the grandkids and the husband. Jenny went to England on vacation, but came back early because the vet called and said Speckles didn’t have too much more time.
When I crossed the busy street, I waved at the cars that passed by instead of just watching their wheels roll by. Lo and behold, there’s people in them there cars! Mostly they were baffled by me, but some waved and honked, and one guy double back and asked me – three times!- if I needed a ride!
I chatted up the mailman and gave some of my tomatoes and cucumbers to my neighbor down the street. I went to Starbucks and had an iced coffee (Atticus had iced water) and finished the last pages of my Shteyngart book, which was fantastic! I got completely absorbed in the story and cried a little at the end, and then told a stranger all about it, while Atticus snored at my feet in the shade of the table.
Later, I invited people over to dinner and danced while I cooked. I tasted everything and experimented with flavors. I picked flowers from the garden to put on the table and in the bathroom. We talked and laughed and ate and then sat around the table for a long time and talked and ate and laughed some more. At the end of the evening, people who had come into my house strangers hugged goodbye on the porch.
I liked being engaged so much I want to marry it!
Here are some people in some moments: