26 April 2012

Seize the Moment – and Live!

Think about the last time you headed out of your home or office to go somewhere. Maybe it was today. What were you thinking about? What did you notice on the way? What was your state of mind as you traveled?

If you’re typical of most of us, the dominant thoughts went something like: ‘Will I get there on time?’; ‘I mustn’t forget to do …. when I get home’; or ‘I must remember to tell … about ….’

For so many of us, as we drive past parks, beaches, and beautiful settings; as we zip by lovers, children and people having fun – our environment is a blur. We travel blindly – at the speed of thought – in our brain. We screen out much of the external world from our conscious awareness.

And then we wonder why one of our biggest challenges in today’s fast-paced and often frenetic life is ‘there’s never enough hours in the day’.

Here’s a fresh slant – if we take the time to be present in the moment, we expand time – we have more of it.

Think of a small child and how absorbed they are as they play, observe, explore the world around them. Remember back as a kid – didn’t those holidays take forever to come!

I had a lovely reminder a few months ago, whilst I was still living out at the beach. I’d been on the go all day. All manner of very important matters had claimed my attention since early morning – important proactive long-term things – the re-design of our website, conversations with clients and prospects, coordinating new projects with business colleagues around the country via phone and email. All interesting, all useful.

Finally I came up for air; looked at my watch. Wow – it was nearly 8pm. (The challenge and the joy of doing what you love is that time can just vanish – even for a time management specialist!)

With an air of finality I turned off the computer and walked out of my office, shutting my door on the world.

As I walked into the lounge the panoramic seascape called. Instead of heading for the bench to prepare dinner I found myself out on the deck with a drink in hand. The brain slowed down. The tide slowly crept across the mudflats. The sea birds slowly pottered for their supper at water’s edge.

And then – suddenly – an amazing cloudscape opened up.

The sun, which had been obscured all day, sank low enough to get its last rays through – under the heavy cloudbank threatening the westerly horizon. The underbelly of the deep black clouds turned to candyfloss pink, then orange, then gold. Moment by moment the colours shifted like a live thing. Thin fingers of vivid light stretched further and further until the whole sky was alive with colour, plaiting a magic pattern through the massed clouds. I sat there mesmerized.

What do I remember from that day? Important and valuable as it had been, the specific work I’d done that day has blurred into all the other days. The cloudscape, however, will stay with me to the grave.

Those 15 minutes seemed like an hour – time stood still.

What can you do – today – to stretch time? Look for something every day. It might be a few moments totally absorbing the beauty of a flower, a little child, a lovely painting, a glorious garden. Practice going beyond the superficial.

The more you see, the greater the quality, the richness and the blessings of the day. As we slow down, as we notice things in a different way, we break the fast-paced rhythm of our environment. Our blood pressure drops, the stress factors reduce (even if only briefly), and we find ourselves better equipped to handle the rest of the daily round.

Seize the moment – and live.

 


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