Being…. present



We watched a movie Saturday night called, The Departure. At one point the main character said about his deceased father, “Is this all there is to show for his life? A couple of boxes?” This made me ask myself, “What do I have to show for my life?” The more that I wake up spiritually, the more I am sure that life isn’t about leaving some physical/tangible thing. I think the only questions are:  Have I been authentic? Have I been honest? Have I expressed the Truth as it has been revealed to me? Have I been interested in the web of life  (the seen and the unseen) that I am such an integral part of? Have I taken the time to listen; to my deepest Self, to the deepest Self in others? Am I truly present for my life, now?

When I woke up Sunday morning, an old friend had sent me (by email) the obituary of a woman who I used to be very close to, but had lost contact with when I moved away from the seacoast 20 years ago. It said that she had died of a heart-attack while on a ski vacation with her sons and that her memorial service was being held that day at 2pm in Portsmouth, NH. Katy and I were the same age. I looked at her photograph and read the brief description of her “accomplishments” as an artist. But it wasn’t really her art itself that made Katy so unique. It was the way that she painted, taught, cooked, talked, listened. …lived.

Katy lived in the present moment. I remember taking walks with her (which were always meant for exercise in my goal-oriented mind) and being so annoyed because every little thing she noticed was interesting and fascinating to her, and she had the audacity to stop and look, when we were supposed to be getting a cardio-vascular workout! I didn’t understand her wisdom back then….it looked like foolishness to me.

As I sat in the filled-to-capacity South Church yesterday, I was reminded of the great wisdom of Katy Baucke and as I drove back home (about 2 hrs into my trip) I noticed my old habit of thinking about what time it would be when I got back, how the roads might be, what time I’d be getting to bed, and I stopped it and thought, “How can I be present for life right now?” I realized that I was hungry. I pulled into a sweet little town in NH and had dinner by myself. I’ve never done that before. I could feel my friend smiling at me.

If you’re like most of us, since you were born, you’ve been running. Now it’s a strong habit that many generations of your ancestors also had before you and transmitted to you–the habit of running, being tense, and being carried away by many things, so that your mind is not totally, deeply, peacefully in the present moment. You get accustomed to looking at things in a very superficial way and being carried away by wrong perceptions and the negative emotions that result. …the practice is to train yourself to stop—stop running after all these thing. Even if you don’t have irritation, anger, fear or despair, you’re still running with this or that project, or this or that line of thinking, and you’re not at peace. So…train yourself to be here, to be relaxed, to stop, to come back to the wonders of the present moment.”

page 79 From the book, FEAR: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm, by Thich Nhat Hanh

25 thoughts on “Being…. present

  1. Mary, I’m sorry for your loss, RIP, Katy. So freeing and liberating when I can manage to be in “the perfect present ” thank you for the reminder to keep practicing this principle. XXO

  2. Please pray for me this week; especially on Wednesday. Heading into major surgery, I’ve been thinking about my life and it comforts me to think that by your definition, Mary, my life has had meaning. Spiritual growth has been my goal, not worldly success. You are a wonderful group of people who uplift my heart in all circumstances. Warmest regards. Christine Catherine

    • I will say a prayer for you! And I hope for the best outcome for your surgery. I am glad that you know your life has had meaning ~ it is important for you to know that. Peace to you and best wishes.

    • My prayers are with you, Christine Catherine, before, during and after your surgery. Times like these always seem to bring forth introspection. So glad to read that you have not found your life wanting. A sweet moment! Blessings on Wednesday.

    • I am praying and will continue to pray for you until you let us know you are on the other side of your surgery and doing well. Be at peace, breathe deeply, and know that in just a few hours, really, the surgery will be behind you. You are never alone.

    • Thank you so much Christine Catherine for allowing us to have the privilege to pray for you on Wednesday. I will also pray for all of the hands and hearts and minds that will be caring for you. Know you have many friends here who will be awaiting news from you when you are able. Love from Arizona!

    • Be well Chris-Cath
      You’re on the right path
      This company you keep is rare.
      Shine down from above
      Surrounded by love
      Enveloped by friends and prayer.
      Light and love.

    • Sending thoughts of deep peace to you Christine Catherine and the words, “All is well. I am whole. I am perfect.”

  3. Beautifully put Mary. And sympathy on the loss of a friend. I’m sure she smiled at your stopping for dinner too ~ and perhaps you were not quite so alone as you thought. I find myself a mix ~ there are too many times when I am concerned with getting somewhere and what needs to happen. I related to Katy stopping to look at things on her walks. Being a photographer, (amateur to be sure!) I find myself doing the same. But in the car, I just want to get there, and while I appreciate the beauty of the passing country side, I don’t often stop just to look. I’m going to perhaps leavea little earlier next time so that I can!

  4. This connected with me – reminded me of how frustrated I would get taking walks with my toddler daughter, who would want to stop and marvel at every little odd leaf or piece of colorful litter we saw along the way. I couldn’t see what she could then, and I’m only now, in my 50’s starting to get back that kind of attention. What a difference it makes to actually notice the world again! Thanks for putting this so well.

    • Susan, your little girls stopping along the path reminds me of my two dogs whose great delight is to partake in the cornucopia of SMELLS! along the desert trails. I liken it to their being in a Disneyland for Dogs! It’s the highlight of their walk, so I slow down and enjoy them enjoying!

  5. Dear Mary, bless you for this beautiful tribute to your friend and her delightful, child-like wonder. Sometimes it takes the passing of another to help us come back to the moment. Your post this morning has helped me return to the present…thank you. I needed this gentle nudge….it has helped me let go of something I have been worrying over….putting things into perspective once again. Your wisdom is always so poignant and timely.

  6. This puts me in mind of a wonderful little book, “The Precious Present”, by Spencer Johnson, MD. A short and well written book, I read it at least twice a year. We all need to slow down a bit and enjoy the now………….

  7. Katy sounds like my friend, Karen, the first Wild Woman I ever met. She was open and adventurous and curious and brave and made me consider a less “safe” way of thinking and living. I was a young mother at the time and she made me see that I could be wild in my loving and living with my babies AND that I should be mindful of my personhood beyond The Mother and The Wife. She is still very present in my life , even though she passed 10 years ago. Bless those friends who ingrain us with their passion and truth.

  8. Powerful thoughts. Best wishes to Christine. I’ve had a couple of major surgeries–for the second one, I made a pre-nest of magazines, lotion, books, etc. by my downstairs recovery bed & it helped. An old friend told me “fear” is ‘false education appearing real’ & that is also a comfort. Treasure your Wild Ones!

  9. I’m sorry to hear of your loss, Mary, but it obviously invoked some good and lesson-filled memories for you, of which you can take advantage today. There’s always a blessing…if you look for it.

  10. Mary, I’m so sorry for the loss of your friend. What a beautiful tribute. Blessings to Cathrine.

  11. Checking in later today, and am so touched by all the comments from the flock. I, too, am sorry for your loss, Mary, but realize that we can’t really lose what is eternally gained – the qualities she shared with you transcend time and as maudmaynardreiki so beautifully put it, she ‘ingrained’ you with her passion and truth. Sort of like an invisible tattoo from her to you! She truly touched your heart. Just before reading your post, I read today’s Tiny Buddha. I loved its message of living our purpose in life – which is to spread love in the here and now, every day. She finishes her post saying:

    4. Keep your eyes and heart focused on how you can add value to the world each day.

    In Ayurveda we call this our Dharma, and it means life purpose. It is our own unique mission in life, the reason we are each here. It is our individual gift we were born to share with others. It is what we are here to serve and dazzle the world with. It is in our DNA and a part of us. It is scripted on our souls.

    In moments of mayhem, cling to your purpose in life. Stick with what is true to you. No matter what is going on in our lives right now, our only guarantee is our life purpose. It will never leave you because it is a part of you. You need your purpose, and your purpose needs you. It is the yin to our yang.

    So in my moments of panic and confusion, instead of pumping my brain for answers, I have learned to continue to focus on my purpose. We are here on this Earth for one purpose alone: to be and spread unconditional love. It’s how we do it that differs. And it’s these differences that paint the mosaic of life.

    When all else fails, focus on how you can add value to the world. If you are wondering what your own personal life mission is, follow your dreams; they will lead you there.

    When I know I have contributed value to the world each day, I feel centered, grounded, and at ease. Action is power.

    Remember, the outer world is a mirror of our inner world. If we can tame the inner beast inside, the dramas in our outer worlds will subside. And when events occur that are beyond our control, we can use these four tools to remain rooted in our center, and at peace.

  12. What an inspiration for a friend and a true gift to you Mary. So sorry she is gone at such a young age. Christine Catherine I will think and pray for you on Wednesday for a quick recovery. Thank you Susan for sharing Tiny Buddha with us, I loved reading it.

  13. Prayers,love and faith to you Christine Catherine. So sorry for your loss Mary. What a touching tribute to your friend. A milestone, your first dinner out alone. It can be healing. Staying with the moment is a struggle I too deal with.

  14. Christine Catherine, sending prayers and healing thoughts your way for remembering your spirit while your body deals with surgery! Hugs and best wishes!

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