In a recent session with my coach I realised that my constant state of rushing may be related in some way to the way I have trouble focusing on the present. So I set myself an exercise, to write a post that focuses on the here and now. Surprisingly it’s taken me almost 2 weeks to get it written, not that I’ve had any other particularly impdending deadlines to work on first, but I think this one was a bit harder to pull out of my head and formulate into something coherent.
Right now I am sitting in my garden, having breakfast, enjoying a rare dry and sunny moment in between this week’s floods and thunderstorms. The sun is unexpectedly strong, heating my forehead, making me squint and rely more on my other senses. The birds (or bardees, as my son calls them) have calmed their chorus to an intermittent tweet here and there. Breakfast time must be over and the hordes have disbanded into a few small groups drawn into conversation over a now very cold cup of coffee. The breeze is soft and refreshing, makes me take ever so slightly deeper breaths. The sound of rustling through the leaves is a nice distraction from the low rumble of traffic in the distance. No sooner do I notice the traffic and the sun goes back into hiding, little warning droplets tap gently on my hands and I scurry back indoors.
I love the sound of rain, that is, unless I’ve just spent a rare half an hour doing my hair and getting ready to go out in a great-looking yet sadly not even slightly waterproof outfit, in which case it fills me with dread and frustration. If I have no plans to go out, however, I love the sound of rain, so continuous and abundant it’s almost hypnotic. Hang on, I’m sure my coffee just tasted like Gran Canarian coffee – funny thing memory.
Ach there I go again drifting into the past. This exercise was supposed to be focusing on the here and now. Something which I’ve recently realised does not come naturally at all. I’ve always been comfortable looking at the past, seeing where I’ve been, celebrating my achievements and learning from my mistakes, which I guess allows me to look at my past with wisdom. And on the other end of the spectrum I’m no stranger to making plans, setting goals and charging forwards into the future. Despite being an angsty teenager happily self-labelled as depressed, I don’t think I’ve ever been completely without hope, and it’s looking at the future that kindles hope. The present, however, has no space for wisdom or hope. There are no ‘could have been’s or ‘might be’s. It just is. The only thing I can have in the here and now is honesty.
Honestly, the present scares me. It is the space where ‘not done’s and ‘not there yet’s exist, the space which breeds doubt, failure, emptiness and lack. But it’s also the only place where reality is real. In the past it’s historical, in the future it’s probable but it’s only in the present that it’s actually real. So however scared stiff I am of standing still, I really should spend a few more minutes here.
So here I am at 27, with the responsibility of age and still some uncertainty of youth, which is a heady mixture at the best of times. It’s a challenge, having people who rely on you, trying to live up to that responsibility whilst still discovering and trying to remain true to yourself. The things I took for granted when young, free and single (curse the cliche!) seem so amazingly attractive now – flitting off to a party or another country, spending as long as it takes to get an essay right, talking with a friend in the small hours of the morning simply because the conversation kept flowing, having the time and mobility to follow my inclinations, whether to submerge myself in social situations or indulge in solitude at a windy beach, and all that being normal, not selfish, just normal. And there I go again, back in the past, argh someone pinch me!
Yet what I have now I always wanted – a family – and I wouldn’t change that for the world. I just wish sometimes I could be more at peace with the reality of it. Maybe it’s just the youth in me rebelling against the notion of compromise and sacrifice. Or maybe it’s the immature dreamer in me adamant to create a synergy where not only are all parts of my life allowed to coexist in peace but they come together to create something even better. If age teaches you acceptance with grace, that’s one lesson I am not yet ready to learn, which does make me smile, just a little bit, as I always thought my parents chose the wrong name.
So I guess here and now, what I have is a funny vortex of contradiction, where immaturity antagonises responsibility (or is it vice versa?), where youth challenges status quo, refuses to allow me to sit still and appreciate the things I have already achieved, in fear that I will be still too long and forget to move, not allowing me to settle, constantly building up more and more momentum… which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s energy. If I get the balance just right, maybe it doesn’t have to gnaw away inside me, maybe I can use it.