Getting In Tune With The Present Moment

Getting In Tune With The Present Moment

“Toys In The Attic.”

Aerosmith.

1975.

Going through some things in my home office, I stumbled across my old record collection. Good old fashioned vinyl LP’s. 100’s of them on a solid 2×4 and plywood cabinet I built many years ago to keep them dry and in good condition. Over the years the cabinet has been slowly covered with other stuff, the albums becoming very much out of sight and out of mind.

Music has always been an important part of my life, and back in the day vinyl was media of choice. Vinyl really wasn’t very portable, so for me to listen to the music it required me to also be less portable.

Back in the day we used to actual sit around and listen to music. Friends would gather and we’d bring our favorite albums and spend hours listening. Music was the focal point, not just something we had playing in the background as we did something else.

There was an intentionality and with that intentionality we sat fully present, just listening, discovering, and enjoying, listening fully in the moment.

Fast forward to the age of streaming. Of music seemingly everywhere on demand. Streaming has made music extremely portable, something you can take with you everywhere. As I thumbed through some of my favorite albums, I realized that streaming has changed my relationship with music. Even though I now have instant access to any song which pops into my head, listening has lost much of its intentionality. The intimacy is gone. The music has become something in the background as I do other things. I’m no longer fully in the moment.

I often feel relationships have also lost much of their intimacy. Like, they feel less intentional. In an ever-connected world, relationships are ever-accessible and yet they can often feel like background noise as we are busy doing other things, often at the expense of what really matters. Ever have to compete for a child’s attention when you’re talking with them with their phone in their hand? And it’s not just the kids. The battle to be fully present can be a struggle for me at times, and with the pace of life and the digital distractions I’m thinking I’m not the only one struggling.

It’s been said that the present moment is all we really have, yet how much of our present moment time is spent focused on trying to understand the moments we’ve had and trying to control the moments we’re going to have, at the expense of the present moment?

The present moment doesn’t care what we do with it.

Perhaps we should?

Photo by Skylar Sahakian on Unsplash

The Best Time To Experience The Present Moment Is Now

The Best Time To Experience The Present Moment Is Now

So there I was.

5:30 AM standing on Coast Guard Beach.

Eastham, Cape Cod. 

Here comes the sun, as the song says.

I’m drawn to sunrises, even if at times it’s a long drive to see one. I left my home a few minutes before 4:00 on this Sunday morning just to see the sun appear out of the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. Certainly, sunrises can be a metaphor for new beginnings and new light. I just happen to think they are simply really cool to witness.

This one didn’t disappoint. The sky’s subtle transition from dark to light revealed a spectacular array of colors and textures in the sky and along the shore. In the shallow water in front of me several seal pups swam parallel to the shore, unimpressed with the sights and sounds around them, the crashing of the ocean waves illuminated by the ever-changing angle of the sun.

With me, as always, was my camera, my trusted companion in capturing the fire and majesty of the births of many new days. But today the camera wasn’t the priority.

I’ve watched the sunrise on this and other beaches many times over the years. Each one it’s own unrepeatable magnificent creation. And with each one came my intention to perfectly capture it, camera in hand. At some point in my photographic journey, though, I realized that I had unintentionally become more concerned with preserving the moment than actually experiencing it. My egoic desire to own the moment prevented me from actually fully enjoying the moment.

Egoic, because I had made this about about me and my need to perfectly capture what was in front of me. Egoic, knowing I’d be disappointed if the images I captured didn’t meet my exacting standard.

It made me wonder about other moments in my life where I chose, consciously or unconsciously, to surrender the present moment in favor of attempting to relive it at a later time. How much of the present moment is lost when we need to immediately share that moment on Facebook and Instagram? What if instead of photographing our food we chose to first actually enjoy it instead?

The best time to experience the present moment is now. 

I still greatly enjoy the photographic side of a sunrise, ever working at refining my skills with the goal of faithfully capturing the beauty of what’s in front of me. But the priority is to now be more fully present to witness the spectacle and wonder of what’s unfolding in front of me. 

On the beach.

And in life.

Maybe Your Life Already Is Something To Get Excited About?

Maybe Your Life Already Is Something To Get Excited About?

“Look, Dad. That’s Orion’s belt. See? Those three stars in a row. Do you see it?”

That was part of an unexpected exchange I had this week with my daughter in the driveway, her little finger pointing to where she wanted my eyes to go. We just came home from her dance class. Cold nights usually mean a clear sky, and on this night you could see to infinity and beyond.

As we got out of the car she threw her head back to find a sky full of stars. And for the next 15 minutes, despite the bitter cold, we scanned the night sky and found as many constellations as we could name.

“Isn’t this cool?” she asked, her voice filled with both awe and wonder.

One of the great things about having a younger child in the house is that they often remind you of things, things you used to simply always do before the whole adult thing showed up in your life and changed your focus. At some point life morphs into a pursuit, a race of attainment and the pressures and stress which come along with it. Instead of taking time to look up and enjoy, we put our heads down and push and kick and fight forward, looking for an ever-elusive happiness in the material things and the status which we feel will come along with them.

I remember awe and wonder. I remember when I wasn’t looking past what I was hoping to find, when I wasn’t so consumed by the future, so often at the expense of the awe and wonder of the present.

I can’t help but contemplate how much awe and wonder am I missing in other areas of my life? Do I see it in the people in my life, the opportunities I have, the physical world around me? Or even life itself? Am I too busy living that I am not really fully alive?

Look up. Look around. Look inside.

Awe and wonder are everywhere.

We just need to take the time to see it.

It’s a great day to be you!