A Thought on Being “Present”

Andrea Banerjee

The other day I was shuffling off to work, and as I often do on my commute, I let my mind wander. It landed on so many material things – the wedding, purchases to be made, and so many thoughts about the future. I often go into elaborate “dream house” fantasies too, where I picture myself living in (and decorating :D) my forever-home. (My imaginary homes are always so luxe, which is hilarious since we’re currently renting in Toronto).

All of this is natural and harmless enough in moderation – and the commute dreaming is a silly example. But lately I’ve realized how many of my thoughts and conversations are centred on the future and the question of “what’s next?”

Maybe it’s symptomatic of the age that I’m at, but it feels as though everyone is at least wondering (if not asking) about what’s on deck: The next career move, the next baby, the next home. Our hyper-preoccupation with “The Plan” takes us so far out of the present. We spend hours and hours of our waking time each week fretting and planning and fantasizing about a future that we often ignore when it arrives.

We talk a lot as a generation about being “present” and the connotation for me is usually media-related. I think of being present as a call to focus on immediacy and enjoy things organically, rather than filtering reality through a device or the lens of social media. This is important, no doubt. But I also think I need to focus on being present in a more macro way – and I encourage you to do it too.

By this I mean: what is your focus right now? What is your lived reality? Whatever it is, I challenge you to embrace it.

I think it’s important to be present in your feelings and your reality, whatever they may look like. Embrace your sorrows, challenge your boredom. Celebrate small victories, or the painstaking inches of movement toward a goal. Master your job before applying for the next one. Lean into experiences that are imperfect, or temporary. Embrace struggle and minutae and tedium. The Monday through Friday, the nine-to-five. Because those things are what’s real; that’s your life. And if you can’t find reward in those moments, that’s a lot of life just written off as you wait for tomorrow.

grateful

I’m not sure what made me have these thoughts lately. I think it’s because I’ve seen so many people in the wedding community rushing their engagement to impatiently arrive at the glittery “stuff” of a wedding. Sometimes I’m the same; I find myself wanting time to speed up because I’m excited for my wedding day and honeymoon – but then I catch myself. I remind myself that I’m engaged. For the only time in my life. I am already living an amazing reality – one that I waited for, and daydreamed about, and impatiently wished away months and years for. These are days I won’t get back, and they matter.

Similarly, I see so many couples being asked about their plans for the future, rather than congratulated on their present. I know this is also a natural social dialogue and intentions are good. But take a minute to congratulate yourself on being here – at 30% of your savings goal, at the beginner or intermediate stage of your job, or just in the middle of a natural stretch of life where there may not be a huge looming milestone.

I’ve found that practicing gratitude for what I have, rather than daydreaming about what I don’t have, is a much more fulfilling way to feel present. I’ve also learned that the grass isn’t always greener in an imagined future.

So just a gentle reminder: The present means something. It’s the culmination of everything you’ve worked for and been through. Let’s all enjoy being here πŸ™‚

This month I challenge you to give your current reality some much-needed love and acknowledgment. And every time your brain goes to ask the question “What’s Next?” I encourage you to instead ask “What’s Now?” and join me in practicing gratitude and celebration for the present. ❀

 

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Sofia says:

    Such a great read. Taking a moment to be thankful for all that we have is a great practice to implement regularly, not just around Thanksgiving. I completely agree with you that in social settings conversation often centers on “what’s next” and this can result in an underlying pressure to live up to the expections of others instead of enjoying the present. Trying to have something exciting to report next time you see friends and family. The everyday little things are enough. They should be enough (=

    Like

  2. Thank you. Very well said, and thought out.

    Like

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