I’m not gifted at “being in the now” yet, but I work at it enough to know that it can pull me out of panic attacks, worry, unrealistic expectations, and most of all my tendency to try to predict my future.
My ability to predict my future sucks. I could fill countless pages with all the things I thought “today” would be like going all the way back to my childhood when I was assuming that being 49 was like blue hair, support hose, and wrinkles, or my predictions that I would live out West and ride cross country on the back of a motorcycled driven by my husband who just happened to look like the Marlboro Man.
Well, here I am still living in Ohio, happily hanging out with my daughter, working a temporary position at a Data company, writing my heart out, experimenting with my love of paper and paper filigree--not with the Marlboro Man, not a model, not a Rockette, not an actress of stage or screen, not a middle school principal, not an accountant, and not living in Wyoming or Alaska. Yes, each of those were a prediction at one time of what "today" might have been like.
Those were all my fun predictions; my point is that for every fun prediction I have also predicted many horrible things for my future as well. These predictions typically fall into various stories of poverty, isolation, and illness. They are the scary scenarios I play out in my mind when my life gets unpredictable—the common triggers being death, divorce, injury, unemployment, betrayal, etc. and none of these predictions have come true either.
It dawned on me that most of my mind energy was spent inventing these horrible scenarios of my future and clearly I’ve already proven that I am in fact terrible at predicting my future, so I decided I had to learn to pull myself back in and focus on right now instead.
I simply cannot know what tomorrow holds—period—and every tomorrow I’ve ever imagined has been different from what I either expected or planned. Some better some worse, but never like expected. So it doesn’t make sense to me any more to let my mind scare me so much.
I’ve learned to bring myself back to right now by thinking of all those hairs that stand out straight because of static electricity. Each hair is one of my tiny thought pieces, worries, memories, to do list items, fantasies; anywhere my mind happens to go is one of those floating static-filled hairs. I take a deep breath and imagine attracting all those strands back into me wherever I’m standing or sitting. I do this a lot when I’m washing dishes, or before bed, or whenever I start to panic.
I can actually start to feel the energy coming back to me from its crazy worry-journey and I feel stronger and more solid—a bit static electricity-ish but better. Nothing bad is happening to me right now. Right now I’m just sitting here. Right now everything is okay. Right now no one is telling me bad news. Right now I hear birds, not a bill collector. Right now my dogs are sleeping and so is my daughter.
Pull the stands back in and just stay here for a minute because at this moment you’re safe, and here, and fine. Trust me, whatever you’re imagining the worse case is or may be—the reality never matches it, so stop imagining what it could be like and deal with it when it comes.
Right now you’re here reading and that’s just fine.