Being Present in the Moment

I discovered lately that a nicer way of connecting with people is by revealing your vulnerable side, by showing some sort of weakness, by simply presenting your flaws and fears. It struck me how much people appreciated this type of honesty and how it helped nudge the conversation in an unexpected direction that was more profound, or at least less superficial. 

It was there and then that I decided to tell something frank and from the heart the next time I sit down to write a post. As a result, the lines that follow are about one of the biggest flaws I have, which I give to you for two reasons — one selfish and one selfless. 

With regards to the selfish reason, I’ve discovered with time that writing helps me tremendously in sorting out my thoughts and feelings. Sometimes, it seems like it’s only through typing these texts that I manage to give shape and meaning to things that have for years been blurry, or obscure. 

The second — and the motive for sharing this at all — has to do with the role reading has played in my life. One of the reasons why I’m so in love with books has to do with the consolation that they offer when you realise that you’re not alone in your thoughts and foolishness. At least, you share them with the authors whose pages you’re reading and the burden immediately becomes lighter, more bearable. Hence, I reckon that at least some of you will recognise themselves in these lines that that you will derive at least some comfort from them. 

So, here is an extremely peculiar trait of mine, which is broadly reflected in the following:

  • One winter, I bought skiing boots, the kind I wished to have, put them back into the box and for the next two years went skiing while renting boots. 
  • In April last year, I bought a suit for the wedding of my brother (not by blood, but by life). The wedding was supposed to be in August, but unfortunately had to be postponed for this summer. Didn’t wear it once. You might think that I’m saving it for the ceremony and you’d be right. The only problem is that it is a woollen suit, so there’s really no way I’ll able to wear it this summer, or any other summer for that matter. Truth be told, I have no clue what I was thinking when I bought it in the first place, but that is less relevant now. All I want to say is that I could have easily worn it this autumn and that I did not. It’s in my closet, hanging, waiting for something, I guess… 
  • Back in the days when we were still buying CD’s, one of my most valuable possessions was The Score by the Fugees. When I bought it, I was extremely happy, or at least that’s how it seemed to me back then. After that, I put it in a box where I usually keep similar things and never in my life put it into a player. Lauryn Hill is my favourite female artist, I adore listening to her voice, but not once did I hear her sing from that CD. 
  • Recently, I finally ordered a pair of sneakers that I’ve been wanting to have for a good year now. An interesting story — sustainable materials, organic cotton, fair trade, blah, blah, blah… you know, that new type of capitalism where you feel good for having bought something sustainable, supported some free artists, indigenous groups in a remote part of the world and so on and so forth. Actually, I don’t want to be cynical, because I really bought them for the story that they tell in addition to the fact that I obviously also like the way they look. The only problem is that I didn’t wear them once. When they arrived, I tried them on, was very happy (or at least that’s how it seemed to me back then), put them back into the box and that’s that. 

Now, I have really no clue what psychological disorder lies behind all of this, but I suspect it has something to do with the fact that I neither know how to enjoy, nor live in the present moment. One reason why I’m not using the things I love has to do with my wish for them to last forever, or at least as long as possible. So, I end up feeling sad in advance for the day when I’ll wear them out, use them up or exhaust them and persistently try to postpone that feeling. 

In Essays in Love, Alain de Botton observed how he spends most of this life living either in memory or in anticipation. Personally, I’m much less bothered by the past, but do spend an awful amount of time in anticipation. For my whole life, I’ve been putting things off in preparation for something. I have no clue what that something exactly is, but it’s as if everything I do is just a warm up for something else, something bigger. And then I end up rushing towards that something, even though I have no clue where I’m going. 

This is evident even in the most banal things. For instance, I don’t know how to stand in place and wait for something. Queuing is a nightmare for me. If I’m waiting for a bus that is supposed to arrive in seven minutes, I’ll walk until the next station. If I wish to take a taxi, I’ll walk towards the destination, while at the same time hailing a cab like a maniac. 

I simply do not know how to be here, now, in this very moment. 

Last year, during a beautiful day trip to Richmond Park, I made my friend M. laugh out loud. As we were enjoying the stunning scenery in peace, I asked her where she thinks we’ll go next weekend. She just couldn’t believe it, but that’s what I’m talking about… Aside from the rarest occasions, I simply do not know how to relax and surrender to the present moment without thinking one hundred steps in advance. 

None of this is normal and I’m aware of that. At the same time, I also know that without this, I would cease to be me — with all my flaws and virtues. I doubt whether I would have been able to accomplish and experience everything I did, if I wasn’t like this. But, as everything else in life, this comes at a cost and I’m starting to feel that this price is too high. 

So, after finishing with this blog, I put out the CD wanting to play Fu-Gee-La from the album that I bough more than 20 years ago, wishing to finally put an end to this madness. Weird thing, I had nowhere at home to put it in. The technology has changed. So, for all these years, I was trying to conserve something and when I actually wanted to play it, I was simply unable to. And not only that, I sadly also discovered that the plastic case broke. For all these years, I was basically keeping and protecting it for nothing. 

Life goes on and does not wait. 

The only right way to live it is here and now. 

And that’s really it. 

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