I’ve been thinking a lot about being present lately. My sisters and I have all resolved to enjoy more in 2015. To not just go through the motions of life, but to enjoy them. This sounds easy, but is so hard to practice when life is buzzing by you in a flurry of busyness and work and repetitive tasks day after day. Life is stunning when you look up close, or when you back way up, but when you just barrel through it it can be grueling, mundane and blah. So I’m trying to figure out how to see the details and the big picture. How to both zoom in and back out of my life to see it’s beauty.
Of course it’s impossible to live in the present of every minute of your life. I love this post on Momastery about how crazy it is to think we can seize every moment of every day. I think probably most of each day just needs to be lived through. There is laundry to be done, groceries to buy, kids to hustle out the door and then back home and through homework and dinner and the bedtime routine.
But there are moments in every day that can take our breath away and fill us with joy. If we can figure out how to stop all the multi tasking and business and freeze those moments, time slows down and we can see crystals in the air. Things become clear and we feel happy.
I love this TED talk about happiness and being in the present. After collecting more in the moment happiness research than has ever been collected before this social scientist found that people are happier when they are present and focused at the task at hand, even if the task is unpleasant and the place where their mind is wondering is pleasant. It seems that social science keeps uncovering what children so instinctively know: we are happy when we are living in the moment.
Photography has taught me a lot about the present moment. In a photo none of the craziness is captured, just the raw emotions, the beauty happening in the second of that shutter speed. Somehow it’s so hard to see it when you’re riding the wave of real life, but when you can stop and freeze it it’s all so obvious.
Take these pictures for example: Emmeline’s birthday party. 10 kids there, lots of noise and excitement and emotion. Emmeline was tearing through her presents with Hazel’s help as I snapped photos. When she got to this present and I realized what it was my mood fell. A princess drum set? This is something no parent ever considers buying for their own child. It’s meant for grandparents to give to children to thrill them and win them over without a thought to the crazy chaos it will bring. As Em opened this present all that I could think about was the noise this would fill our house with. And with those thoughts I missed these faces of delight and glee that were happening in that moment.
When I sat down to go through her birthday pictures the next week I saw all that I missed in the moment. Look at the pure joy on that child’s face. While looking at these pictures, with the noise and chaos and dread about the chaos to come stripped away, I fell in love with Emmeline all over again. I saw the beauty of that moment.
As much as I love being able to relive something and see it more clearly through a photograph, I’d like to become better at stripping all the clutter away in real time. How to freeze the moments with my brain instead of just with my camera. How to have more of those slow moving crystally moments where love sinks into your relationships and you’re filled with wonder and joy and gratitude. I’m not asking for a whole life time of this, just a few little chunks each day. I think that that is where real happiness lies.
My mom is here this week. She came to spend some special time with Hazel, her little pen pal, and I cajoled her into speaking with me for our Stake Relief Society women’s speaker series on Sunday. Our topic is: Enjoy it, because it’s happening. Picturing the present with an eternal perspective. We’ve been brainstorming like crazy to figure out what helps bring more perspective and how we can be more mindful and engaged and present in life. My mom is so good at this. My mom. She’s really amazing. I’m so excited to speak with her.
Anyway, I know it’s just in two days, but I’ve been trying to get this blog up all week to ask your thoughts. We’d love to hear any ideas you have on how to be more mindful, cut more out, see more clearly, enjoy the present. How do you zoom in and slow down to see the magnificent details and how do you back up to see the bigger picture?
We’d also love anyone local to come and join us on Sunday night. It’s at the LDS Revere Chapel, 455 Washington St. at 7pm on Sunday.
And if you can’t make it on Sunday, please join the conversation here. I’m planning on posting a bit more about this topic this year as I embark on a quest to really figure out how to be more present. How to be all here (but not all the time, that would be crazy).