"Like most humanoids, I am burdened by what the Buddhists call the 'monkey mind' - the thoughts that swing from limb to limb, stopping only to scratch themselves, spit and howl. From the distant past to the unknowable future, my mind swings wildly through time, touching on dozens of ideas a minute, unharnessed and undisciplined. This in itself is not necessarily a problem; the problem is the emotional attachment that goes along with the thinking. Happy thoughts make me happy, but - whoop! - how quickly I swing again into obsessive worry, blowing the mood; and then it's the remembrance of an angry moment and I start to get hot and pissed off all over again; and then my mind decides it might be a good time to start feeling sorry for itself, and loneliness follows promptly. You are, after all, what you think. Your emotions are the slaves to your thoughts, and you are the slave to your emotions.
The other problem with all this swinging through the vines of thought is that you are never where you are. You are always digging in the past or poking at the future, but rarely do you rest in this moment. It's something like the habit of a dear friend Susan, who - whenever she sees a beautiful place - exclaims in near panic, 'It's so beautiful here! I want to come back here someday!' and it takes all of my persuasive powers to try to convince her that she is already here. If you're looking for union with the divine, this kind of forward/backward whirling is a problem. There's a reason they call God a presence -- because God is right here, right now. In the present is the only place to find Him, and now is the only time." - "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert, ch. 41, pg.132
This is just a little bit creepy because I had been ruminating on what to write about for a couple days now and this section of text from the book pretty much fits right on in there with what I was thinking about.
So, yesterday was insteresting. You ever have those days where you just feel...irritable? No one is making you angry, you don't have PMS, nothing big happened to make you feel that way and there's really no reason. Still, you just feel frustration deep in your core? I kept trying to put my finger on it and the best way I can say it is this...
It's like some days, I feel like I have a really good handle on everything. Then, bam! One day, I wake up and I feel like everything in my life is out of control and needs to be FIXED. I suppose it could be labeled as worry or fear for the future. But also sort of fear for the present. I mean, I looked at myself yesterday and thought, "Man...everything needs to be fixed. My finances, my health, my marriage, my parenting, etc." It was strange. I was feeling GREAT the day before. Why this sudden attack of guilt/fear/worry?
My office mate will tell you that her theory is that I am a caffeine addict and, seeing as I didn't get my coffee yesterday, it naturally led to feelings of irritability, frustration and sadness. I think she might be onto something there...at least a little bit. I'll admit...I had my coffee this morning and it was like a 180 degree turn-around for me! But, still...deep down...even though I'm telling it to be quiet...there's still that nagging voice saying, "You're not good enough. You'll never figure things out. You're never going to do things the right way."
This summer, we were blessed to attend a counseling session in which we learned about core lies that we tell ourselves. This lie of "I'll never be good enough" has really been recurring in my life over and over lately. I'm still wrestling with its origin...I'm afraid it goes SO far back, it will take quite a lot of emotional work to find the root.
But, I love the second half of the excerpt above. The idea that I've been mentally and emotionally searching for answers all over the past and future...when God is right here, right now just waiting for me to look at Him. Why do I blow Him off? Like I think He's NOT going to help me out? I know better than that.
Things are just so fast-paced, so busy...I struggle to slow my brain down enough to even pay attention to what is going on now. The very few moments of my life when I actually am present in a moment (and my mind is not wandering to what I have to do next) have been the greatest days of my life.
I tried to remember the last time I made a conscious choice to be present in my life. It was the day that Justin was born (almost four years ago!) I had a feeling he was going to make his grand arrival that night and I made it a point to just BE with the girls and really pay attention to them, because I knew it was our last real time together....JUST US. That day, I took pictures and was so lucky to be able to actually capture the joy and whimsy of that afternoon. The feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you look at these shots is the feeling I had radiating through me that afternoon. Complete and total peace. Complete and total contentment and joy.