I embark on an early morning run and a cold chill brushes against my legs. The desert sun is shining and as my feet hit the pavement, I notice the rabbits jumping in small patches of green grass, while the air boasts a variety of smells: the manufactured floral scent of laundry detergent, the aroma of a late night barbecue and the subtle fragrance of rosemary. I pass by several houses, where pumpkins and scarecrows take a back seat and Christmas lights, Santa and candy canes transform the desert landscape into a mini-holiday wonderland. I take a deep breath, letting the air fill my lungs, slowing my stride, wondering if my restlessness will dissipate with my focused attempt to pay attention to the present. My path intersects with the cerulean sky which houses wisps of white clouds, nests resting in the branches of trees and a lone flower springing from the a light green cactus filed with thorns.
The red-orange flower sprouting from the cactus appears like a lighthouse. Even though I’ve witnessed it a multitude of times, every single time it catches me off guard, an unexpected good surprise from paying attention to my surroundings. With a step forward, my breath synchs with the beauty and for a millisecond, I inhabit this moment. This pushes me to contemplate the other instances of my life – how often am I fully present and immersed in the space that is front of me? Sometimes my need to multitask – talking on the phone and making dinner, surfing on the computer and attempting to pay attention to my family and folding laundry while addressing some of my daughter’s homework concerns – chips away at trying inhabit the moment as it is happening. It is also the reason for my restlessness.
To be clear, in my twenties and early thirties I depended on this ability to multitask and pushed toward accomplishing multiple tasks simultaneously. I am still unclear as to why I opted for this reckless route, hurrying through moments that probably needed more of all of me. Lately, I’ve asked this question: What is the rush? Is moving through the moment superficially serving a higher purpose? The answer isn’t earth shattering – the truth, there is no rush and there is no benefit from bulldozing my way from one second to the next. I suspect my underlying restlessness is what I know, so I tend to cling on to the certainty of how I’ve steered my life in the past. It is sometimes scary to contemplate a new way of viewing my moments, especially when my feet are firmly in midlife. Does that mean I’ve lived my life riddled with errors? This question is rhetorical. There isn’t any right or wrong way to live life because judging the living isn’t the point.
What is infinitely clear is occupying my time with a heightened awareness of being mindful of the present. Time generates strength and a fragility. The pulse of these seconds, minutes, hours ticking everyday and knowing how it takes me to through the tunnel of years and now decades, breeds an overwhelming feeling of comfort and fear. Building a friendship with time requires understanding what matters most to me.
After contemplating my run and the words in this post, I circled back to quote by Eric Roth which I adore: “For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”