This moment

Bodhi sleeping on the radiator

Bodhi sleeping on the radiator

A while ago I had an appointment at 9 a.m so I arrived 15 minutes early, which is something that I like to do: arrive early. The 15 minutes past, then 30, then 45, and I found myself getting increasingly annoyed. I had just enough presence of mind to be aware of this as my body began to heat up (literally) and become restless. The thought that was producing this uncomfortable feeling was, “He (the man I was meeting) is really inconsiderate”. And yet another part of me knew that whenever I was thinking a negative thought about someone else, it was my projection that was causing the pain… to me. The next thought, which actually surprised me was, “I am being inconsiderate….to myself”.

I grew up in a family that “prided itself” on never being late. People who were late were looked down upon and severely criticized as being irresponsible. Growing up in this atmosphere, I adopted it without question and believed it to be Truth. I began to hate it when someone was late and became extremely irritable when I even thought that I would be late. My emotional response was so far over the top that I almost felt possessed by anger when it happened, but I also felt powerless to stop it. What a hellish thing to put myself (and everyone around me) through in the name of being a responsible, “good” person. I always wince a little when someone prefaces a statement by, “I pride myself on…..” because this usually means, “I think I am (secretly of course) better than those who don’t do it like I do”.

So back to how I was being inconsiderate to myself by judging lateness as wrong.

As I sat waiting that day, I realized something deep within myself. I realized that I was thinking that some moments of life were insignificant. As I sat there, impatiently “waiting”, I could see that my mind found no value in that moment. I was alive, sure, but I wasn’t really living, I was waiting for something better and more important to happen (in that moment the more important thing was the meeting). I saw that I had put myself on hold, counting the present, waiting, as something to be gotten through. What a waste of my life. How could I even be more inconsiderate of myself. Sitting there in that little ball of self-righteous anger, all upset, unhappy, and uncomfortable, because someone wasn’t following “the rules”, I realized that I was, in that moment, throwing away and ruining my life, and I was blaming him.

I began to look around me. I noticed a beautiful light-catcher in the window. I saw a lady bug crawling on a screen and thought, “My god, that is alive! With little legs, eyes, a heart even? Where is it going?” The moment suddenly seemed sacred and valuable beyond words. I recalled a story that a spiritual teacher, Byron Katie, told about her awakening and how a cockroach had crawled across her body and she only felt awe and love. In that moment, I understood what she meant; there is no moment less important, or more important, than another. Driving in my car, making my bed, painting, visiting with clients, sleeping, eating, waiting ….all equal….unless I judge them to be otherwise.

After that day, I thought (hoped) that I’d never feel upset about lateness again, but this hadn’t been my experience. There are times when my mind will revert back to the old belief and I can feel the familiar, crappy, feelings coming back. But I now have the presence of mind to catch them before they take me over and ruin my life. I have become considerate enough of myself not to do this anymore.

“This stroke of insight has given me the priceless gift of knowing that deep inner peace is just a thought/feeling away. To experience peace does not mean that your life is always blissful. It means that you are capable of tapping into a blissful state of mind amidst the normal chaos of a hectic life. …The feeling of peace is something that happens in the present moment. It’s not something that we bring with us from the past or project into the future. Step one to experiencing inner peace is the willingness to be present right here, right now.” pp 159 from the book, “My Stroke of Insight” by Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D.

 

 

18 thoughts on “This moment

  1. Mary, it is so good seeing this thought in print! As one who is more often 5 minutes late and working hard to correct that, I now sometimes find myself being the one who waits. I don’t think I had ever really thought about valuing time differently, but of course we do! With our busy lives we so need to cherish those rare moments of quiet while waiting or, as you pointed out, seeing and enjoying what is around us. Every moment in life is important and we need to live that way.
    Hope you are enjoying many blessings this Thanksgiving weekend.
    ❤️ Marian

  2. I’m so glad that you posted on this, the day after Thanksgiving. It has given me the opportunity to look within and to look at family story telling (telling stories about family members since we were all together for the holiday) and to stop justifying to myself other people’s “stuff” because I know Mary keeps reminding us that it is really our stuff to begin with.

    I also grew up in a family where being on time was THE rule. Last night I was able to be five minutes late (I’ve been known to be an hour early). Although I must admit, driving was slow due to snow. Many an event was begun whether all had arrived and one was made fun or of chided if arriving late. I would become tense and anxious if I knew I was going to be late and not drive as carefully as I might have.

    The following sentences struck a nerve for me – “What a hellish thing to put myself (and everyone around me) through in the name of being a responsible, “good” person. I always wince a little when someone prefaces a statement by, “I pride myself on…..” because this usually means, “I think I am (secretly of course) better than those who don’t do it like I do”.”
    i.e. – I pride myself on being on time. I pride myself on being ___________ (anything to bolster myself and be better than someone else because I doubt my worthiness).
    Oh, wow – that was an eye-opener for me. It was a real “gotcha.”

    Waiting for someone else or an appointment can be a time to just be quiet and just be. As long as we have to wait – we might as well have an attitude of appreciation for that time rather than a disgruntled outlook on the situation.

    Thanks for giving us more to “digest.”
    Wishing everyone in the White Feather Farm Family a Happy Thanksgiving.

    Mary Solomon

  3. I find that I have never truly vanquished my character defects…. but having recognized and named them, I can play ” Whack- a – Mole” when
    ever they choose to resurface.

  4. Thank you, Mary. You told my story. I was brought up to be on time. We were often early, very early. I have continued that in my adult life and have always considered people who arrive late as inconsiderate. I have been trying to do exactly what you talked about, being present to the moment. As one of the family arrived very late for Thanksgiving dinner, I could feel my irritability rising as we wanted the food to be good for serving, not dry or overcooked. So, it is an ongoing process for me to let go and enjoy the moment. It was good to be reminded by you this morning.

  5. I really look forward to getting your posts in my in-box. I feel you express so much that I can take and put into practice in my own life and the lives of my clients. I feel much commonality between some of the things you think and deal with, and my own journey. Thank You!! I love it when you make discoveries like this and share it with us. I grow too! And I almost always nod and smile.

  6. Thanks for the thoughts Mary! I did think though your first thought – how inconsiderate of this man was also worthy of your attention. I get tired of my time being everyone else’s to waste. The time I spend waiting for someone to show up is time I could have spent with my family, on my passions, or sitting quietly in contemplation.

    I’ve been doing the same as you when I’m waiting – looking around, contemplating, living in the moment and not getting frustrated. I’ve noticed a lot of new things too that were good to notice.

    But at the end of it, if someone keeps me waiting too long, it upsets me that it took time away from what I really wanted to do and I am likely to say something about it to them.

    Nancy

  7. I just finished a series on Happiness in the Headspace Meditation (available online) – He concluded the 40 day series talking about equanimity (even the way that word rolls off the tongue is sweet, slow, languid) – and said that the willingness to be open to the moment, whatever that may be, can be an opportunity to connect, even if it means going within, simply breathing, enjoying the wait, the unexpected delay in traffic, etc. After all, your peace is within you, a well we can always tap into by connecting to our breath and breathing out the anxiety, annoyance, frustration of the outer moment. Great post for Thanksgiving, and for the coming flurry of holidaze! Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

  8. Mary, I am so grateful for what you have shared. It is rich with meaning for me. You have given a whole new meaning to the matter of “waiting”~~something that can be challenging but is so full of opportunity. And thank you for the quote which so eloquently articulates the world’s best kept secret.

  9. Mary, thank you for this post and your thoughts. I must admit I’m having a hard time grasping it in some ways. I do understand the power in being in the moment and taking in what is all around us and using our time wisely in that way. I am just struggling with the idea of someone being that late to an appointment you both agreed on. I don’t know, I guess I just find it disrespectful. While I get not letting it get to us and then we suffer, I have a hard time with feeling it is a lack of respect for the other person’s time. So perhaps this is what you are speaking of in regards to conditioned belief’s — so I’ll have to work on this one. 🙂

  10. Thank You Mary for a new and wonderful perspective on waiting. Waiting can be challenging, but how nice to breathe and become aware of ladybugs!:)

  11. oh dear, I’d like to admit that l am usually quite annoyed with people who show up early…it’s almost as if they want to catch you out, or make you feel bad for not being ready, whatever it is it can put the other person in an awkward situation which l personally would not like to be the cause of. LIfe happens and we all have been late at one point or another, but I also reserve the right to leave if I need to be somewhere else – but try to do so without growling or hissing…:-) (a student once put a saying on the whiteboard in my lecture room: wag more, growl less!)

  12. Ah, Mary……You have to understand that I went through 12 years of Catholic school. Being late was something you just didn’t do! In fact, your report card had a space on it, not just for subject grades, but also for grading of your times late. And so, it’s in my DNA never to be late.

    I like your thoughts on this subject, and I know the truth of what you say about using the time to “be here now,” but I, too, am having some problem with someone being late for a mutually agreed upon appointment. Aside from uncontrollable circumstances (which happen now and then to everyone), I feel a sense of disrespect for MY time if someone keeps me waiting for more than 30 minutes. And I really don’t blame myself for feeling that way, because I am worthy of respect, just as I respect others.

    On the other hand, a short wait CAN be a perfect time to tune into your surroundings or even just to think upon things that might spark a moment of awareness. What is critical for me is to catch myself during those times, before irritation takes over, and shift my awareness to bathing in every individual moment. No easy task, but do-able.

    (But just don’t keep me waiting TOO long. I might turn into a Ninja….. 🙂 ).

    Hope everyone’s Thanksgiving was lovely!

  13. Mary, Why do any of us do what we do to our bodies because of our minds? I’m darned if I know…so thanks for pointing out that being more mindful of how we are reacting to situations can cause us distress or less stress. On the other hand, unless in a doctor’s office where I’ve come to expect that time can’t be run by the clock but by individual’s needs, I’d hope that an explanation for the delay of that length could be given. I might feel that it is not respecting me and of my time. A juxtaposition of thoughts.
    Sandy P in Canada

  14. Thanks Ma, I need to remind myself of this often when I’m rushing around LA.

    One deep breath and smile at a time.

  15. This was certainly thought-provoking, Mary! Being in the moment and appreciating those special gifts such as the lady bug and the rainbow reflections – we would not necessarily notice them if we were not pausing and allowing ourselves to be present. And the waiting…in college I remember we were told if our professor did not show up by 15 minutes past the start of class we did not have to wait. I’ve always remembered that and used that as a rule of thumb for myself, in general. But, you are right. It’s all in how we choose to look at it, and how much we want to connect with that person we are waiting for. Thank you!

  16. I loved (and lived) this, Mary! A grew up the same way, but eventually learned to live in God’s time more, helping me to feel less frustrated and allowing myself time to be where I am at any moment – which now seems to be about 15 minutes behind everyone! Thanks for sharing!

    Hugs! Wendy

    Sent from my happy mobile world to yours!

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