I’m writing about presence… again!
Things have (relatively) slowed down (for now) for me. Camping is on pause for a while. I’m going home for the holidays 3 times in a 2 month period. I’ve had a bit of time to slow down and take stock of how this year has been for me. I’ve written about “presence” before on several occasions, and I can promise that I will write about it a lot more for the rest of my life. During my most recent reflection, I gained another angle, another perspective, another take on “presence.”
This morning I realized that I am finally over the hurdle of something with which I was struggling. That struggle is a story that I would like to write about in due time. Today, I realized that I was over my struggle BECAUSE I actually MISSED the feeling of it! And if I miss a feeling, that means the feeling no longer exists within me, therefore, I am over said feeling! It was both a very logical step and a simply peaceful feeling to arrive at this big personal milestone.
This got me thinking about other milestones I’ve reached in my life, and the journeys it took to get to each one. When I was young and in school, it was easy to measure my life – I was at this school, living in this town, doing these activities. As an adult, it is a bit more challenging to quantify and differentiate the years; they all blend together in a delicious mix of fun, growth, adventure. I make annual collages of my best pictures because I want to remember all the random things I did that year. Every year is my new favorite, and I have no idea how next year will top it, but I somehow know and trust that it will be even more amazing than the one I just experienced.
This picture was taken 5 years ago when I graduated college. At the time, I felt so grown up, mature, experienced. I was obviously in the most senior class on campus and I was ready to go out in the real world. Looking back now, I laugh and chuckle at how young, inexperienced, cute, and just… FRESH… I was. I had absolutely no clue what I was doing or what was in store for me. I knowingly laugh and smile at several moments of my past when I THOUGHT I was so big and so bad; I now know that I was just a kid growing up and going through life. Even in my current moment, I feel pretty mature, grown, like I finally deeply know who I am and what I want. But I’m very confident that someday, I am going to look back at my 28-year-old self and lovingly, knowingly laugh at how young, new, oblivious, FRESH I was at the time.
I remember being stressed out as a student and having very brief moments of clarity thinking, “You know what, I should enjoy this. Someday I’m going to look back and miss this. I’m going to think that THESE are the ‘simple times.'” I was right. This current moment in my life is relatively simple. I have no one to answer to, and I am responsible for no one other than myself. I plan as many or as few adventures as I want. I spend my time and energy on things that bring me joy. Sure I can get challenged at work, or “should” myself about owning property, or just have general stress about daily life. But I still have moments where I remind myself “Enjoy this. THESE are the simple times. You’re going to miss this.” I’m sure that I will. If/when I am blessed enough to have kids and I’m sleep deprived and at my wit’s end, I’m 100% positive that I will miss my carefree days of complete and utter freedom. Each leveling up in life, each promotion, each graduation, each new chapter brings with it its own challenges, stresses, growth opportunities, and enjoyable moments. Each is more complicated than the last. Each makes me sometimes wish for the old “simple days.” And yet, at each chapter, I know that life will just keep getting deeper, “more complicated,” AND more amazing.
I am reminded of presence today because I miss my old struggle! And if I can miss something as challenging as a struggle, then how much more am I going to miss the fun, exciting, thrilling, joyful, delicious, peaceful, and awesome moments of my life.
Obviously enjoy the joy! Enjoy the fun. Enjoy the peace. Enjoy the pain. Even enjoy the struggle. Enjoy all of it. Because none of it is going to last.
Be present. Because you worked so hard to get here. Because this is all you have, this moment, RIGHT NOW. Because you’re going to miss this someday.
And when, not if, I ever forget to be present, I will sink into my breath. I will think about Future 85-year-old Niki and how I want to give her fond memories to look back on. I will think about Past 5-year-old Niki and how she would kill to be grown up enough to experience what I’m currently going through. I will remind myself that I am open to living life authentically by being true to who I am becoming in this moment. And I will bring my heart and mind back into Present Niki and just enjoy the hell out of my precious life.