Today is Wednesday.
Wednesday is like my “Friday.”
I came home from work, took a jog and meditated – relaxing into the thought of my “weekend” ahead. Instead of staying in this NOW moment, my thoughts quickly shifted to Saturday, which is my “Monday,” and what I will have to do when I return to work. Gratefully the next thought that came to me was: “It’s not Saturday yet. It’s Wednesday 7:30pm. Stay in this moment!” I remembered a spiritual guide that I once had who, when I would be fretting about some future task or event, would say: “It’s not here yet. Live this moment.”
How often I live life focused on the next thing instead of this moment. And in so doing, am I really living?
I am convinced that it was my meditation that brought me to this little awareness this evening. Meditation focuses us simply on the NOW. 12 Step Groups often talk about “one day at a time, one moment at a time.” Simply living THIS moment. When an addict is focused on not ever being able to use in the future this hinders recovery. But when an addict focuses on simply not using today, or this moment it, makes recovery much more manageable. In the same way, when I am focused on the future, this hinders living. When I am focused on today, or this moment, life unfolds.
I imagine that my friend who had a stroke right before Christmas and his partner can easily get paralyzed when they begin thinking about the future, when various stages of recovery will come and what will happen in the weeks to come. Sanity or some peace of mind must come from simply focusing on today’s progress, instead of a whirl of thoughts about the future. I can only imagine how difficult this must be for them at times! I know how very much and how very quickly I want to see my friend recover. I can’ only imagine how much more they want the same. I will pray that, with a focus on today’s progress, life will unfold for them in good and positive ways, as indeed it already has these past 12 days!
I recently spoke with two college students. When I asked how they were doing they both responded: “Stressed!” As a matter of fact, one of these students called me late one evening because he was really coming a bit unglued, as the stress of a new semester was kicking in his clinical anxiety. What was happening was these two students were sitting at home with all their Syllabuses from EVERY class they were taking laid out. They were concentrating on and freaking out about EVERYTHING that needed to be done. Both were becoming paralyzed as a result of the stress they were feeling.
I smiled as I told both of them not to look at the big picture, but just concentrate on the small stuff and what needed to be done today. I smiled because I SO need to remember this same thing at times! When we just keep concentrating on the big picture we easily get anxious, wondering how we’re going to get it all done. This anxiousness is nothing but an energy drain which leads to paralysis. What we can do is pause, take a breath and just concentrate on getting ONE thing done. This will lead to the next and the next, without a lot of useless anxiety.
Life can so easily be that way sometimes can’t it? In such moments when we feel anxiety rising and wonderment as to how in heaven’s name we’re going to get everything done – in such moments, maybe we need to remember not to sweat the big stuff! Just do what’s before you. The rest will fall into place.
I had a physical trainer once who said to me: “A little exercise done consistently is much better than a lot done sporadically.”
After a late Fall and Winter of being a slug – physically at least – I have, of late, been slowly getting back into my exercise routine. The older I get, the harder I find that it is to get back into a routine after a time away. It helps me tremendously, though, when I remember what that trainer said. When I realize that I only have to do a little consistently it helps motivate me. On the other hand, when I think that I have to do a lot I get a bit paralyzed and chances are I won’t do anything.
This is a good metaphor for life.
Sometimes we get paralyzed when we think of everything we’ve got to do or should be doing. The thoughts get so daunting that we sometimes end up doing nothing. Whether it be working on a relationship, a project at home, time taken for spiritual growth, dealing with an addiction, caring for the poor and less fortunate of our world, or whatever it is that we feel Life is asking of us – it helps when I just think of doing a little bit consistently. Those recovering from addictions talk of taking things just “one day at a time.” The thought of not doing something the rest of my life is too much. But the thought of just not doing it today is more palatable and motivating.
What is the nudge that you feel from Life? What improvement for yourself or others is it asking from you? Just do a little bit today. . . . Then tomorrow, do a little bit again. “A little bit done consistently is much better than a lot done sporadically.”