The first few sips are scalding as I hold my hot cup of coffee with two small hands to my lips, blowing a little bit of air on the surface to cool it down as I glance out the window. To my left are clouds. The wispy, white, thin barriers mask the hustle and bustle of the world below. I never feel more present than when I am traveling. For some, the coordination and details of trips cause stress, anxiety, and time away from their immediate, everyday life that must be regained when they return. But for me, traveling provides a small window of time to simply be.
It gives me a chance to absorb, experience, and essentially sense what it feels like to just live. I should also mention that it gives me time to realize just how restricting the window view can be in an airplane cabin at 30,000 feet. The small child kicking the back of my seat and demanding his iPad jolts me from my Zen coffee moment and reminds me that not everyone on the flight is there to take in the scenery.
There are times in life when we become acutely alert to our own self- awareness. When I am conscious of the hot liquid of Arabica beans passing from my lips to my tongue, warming me from within as I take each sip, I realize I am present. These moments are far too rare as we as a culture continue to immerse ourselves in the distractions of everyday life more so than our own spirit. It is more comfortable for us to get online and become part of the busyness than to sit in silence with our own thoughts.
If you haven’t yet taken 5 minutes to watch and listen to Look Up by Gary Turk, go ahead and get distracted by this link and do it. This spoken word film speaks to multiple generations about living in the moment and taking in the world around us. As much as we think we are documenting every significant moment of our life with posts or pictures and getting the most up to date world news alerts, I have to wonder; are we really giving our perception of life justice if we are always looking through a lens or on a screen?
“To see takes time” is the quote by Georgia O’Keeffe that Mark Nepo begins his entry entitled “While Running.” In this excerpt he briefly describes how he awakened to a personal truth of freedom from running outside, in three different months. By simply observing the actions of the people and stimuli around him, his description leads the reader to realize that though he’s spent plenty of time exercising outdoors and looking around, a moment of clarity finally came over time.
I may typically take the same route to work everyday, but when I make a conscious effort to be present, I finally realize there are things I have never seen before as I make the drive. With time, the ordinary does not have to become mundane, but rather repeated opportunities to take notice, observe, and absorb the life we are living. My best friend rides the metro in Boston, Massachusetts and continues to serve as my daily source of entertainment when she notices peculiar habits or the expressive outerwear of her fellow passengers. I’ve even found myself to be quite attached to appearances of The Keytar Bear, a street performing phenomenon that I never would have been introduced to had she not looked up from her computer screen and opened her window one day. Her level of presence and ability to take in the world around her motivates me to do the same.
If you are ready to make the effort for improvement, Mark Nepo’s book, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have, is the perfect companion for daily practice of being in the present moment. I was introduced to these readings by one of the most comforting and self-described “earth-mother” yoga teachers that I have ever encountered. Not sure you are ready to read and meditate on your own? There’s an app for that! Simply Being can be set to different time increments and a soothing voice will help get you started.
My only conscious passing of the time is the now cold liquid that remains at the bottom of my coffee cup. How many minutes have passed? Taking a deep breath, I fill my lungs with air, stretching, reaching up, and allowing my body a brief reprieve from the constraints of the airline seat. “Are we there yet?” I hear the small child ask his parents. I smile a little to myself, relating to the feeling of urgency to get from one place to the next. With time I have come to see that I am here, now, and I am thankful to be in this moment.
Lauren Messer is a renaissance millennial striving to create balance while learning from the moments in her journey. As a producer in media production, she is on the forefront of content driven visual messaging. She has her Masters of Communications Studies from the University of Alabama, is a CrossFit Level 1 Trainer, and ESL tutor in Dallas, Texas.
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