“I hope you aren’t so wrapped up in nonessential stuff that you forget to really enjoy yourself – because this moment is about to be over.” – Oprah Winfrey
Some years ago, not sure how many, let’s say my early 20’s, I went to the movies with the boyfriend (now hubby). Typical date: dinner and a movie; and for dinner we chose a cheap burger place. We ordered our burgers, and as part of a promotion they were doing, I won a disposable camera. You should have seen my face! I was beyond happy! I was so thrilled, I thanked the guy about 50 times. My hubby turned to me and said ‘this is why I love you, who else would be this happy about a silly camera?’. Well I assumed everybody would be that happy; yes it was an ugly camera, and yes it’s true, we didn’t really use cameras where you have to actual ‘develop’ photos any more, but it was given to me, for no reason and completely unexpected! Damn right I was happy!
In general that’s how I live my life, or at least try and want to live it. To enjoy the moment as it comes, to live the now, to be thankful for all I get. I didn’t think when or how I was going to use that camera, I was just thrilled that someone was giving me a gift for absolutely no reason (other than marketing, CRM, advertising, whatever, it was still nice).
As you get older though, it gets harder sometimes to just enjoy the moment. So many distractions are thrown our way, so many things, the day-to-day frenzy, the stress… we end up getting distracted from what’s around us. From the gifts we’re given each day (oh, don’t worry, I’m not going religious on you now, I swear.). We start worrying too much about things that won’t mean a peanut to us when we’re grey and old, and forgetting to enjoy ourselves.
I am so aware of our limited time that I don’t want to miss a single thing. And whenever I fail to see the world around me, whenever I have one of those days when I am so absorbed in non-essential stuff (yeah, I have those too) that I fail to see beyond that, I get really angry, better yet, disappointed at myself. Most of all I feel like I haven’t enjoyed myself, that I’ve missed out on the good things that were actually there in front of me, and I simply failed to see it. And isn’t that just sad? Why waste days when you don’t enjoy yourself not even a tiny bit?
The good news is that it’s a matter of practice, it’s a choice, that we all have to actually try and enjoy ourselves and live the moment. One simple way to start enjoying the moment a bit more is to be thankful for the things you do have. I do this often. And now even when I have bad days, I just take a deep breath and try to look for the good things, the teachings, and open my eyes to other things around me that maybe I wasn’t paying attention to.
I am reading a book by Oprah (whom I absolutely love) and in one sentence she manages to capture it quite well:
“My number one spiritual practice is trying to live in the present moment… to resist projecting into the future, or lamenting past mistakes… to feel the real power of now.”
I am trying to do this too. And it’s working. It doesn’t mean you’re like a dufus, just smiling for no reason at all or that you won’t ever cry again or be upset; it doesn’t mean every day is perfect. It does mean you are more aware of everything around you and you try to see and live fully.
When I received that camera I wasn’t happy because it was my ‘daily practice’ to be happy about things and live the moment… I simply wasn’t even thinking about it. And blissfully I am the kind of person who gets genuinely excited about the most random stuff, so the truth is it doesn’t come that difficult to me.
Still, since I have acknowledged that this is what I want to do – I want to enjoy myself every step of the way and live fully – I have far less ‘bad days’. Since I have turned it into an actual practice, now I’m not only enjoying the ride every other day, when my commute wasn’t hell and the day went perfectly. No. Since I started to try and practice gratitude and to be open to the good things around me, I can magically turn a day when I had a nightmare commute and stress at the office into a day I am thankful for that rainbow, for the dinner my husband cooked, or for crashing at the sofa at the end of the day. On really bad days, I just try to take away the teaching, what can I learn from this, what can I do moving forward with what I have learned today, how can I become better because of this…
And just like that, I start to enjoy all my days. Because at the end of the day, religious or not, life is an absolute gift, and I don’t want to waste it at all.
In that same book, Oprah mentions a song that was send to her by Maya Angelou; the refrain has the following line:
“When you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance” (Lee Ann Womack)
I definitely chose to dance throughout life – to live a life free of regrets and enjoy it while it lasts; I was never one to miss out on a good party after all.
Oh, and about that camera? I never used, but I’ll never forget how happy it made me, that I got a free camera.