Being in the Present

I am a planner. I love to plan. When I am making plans for something (such as now with the rose garden), I am completely single-minded. I can’t think or talk about anything else. I know that it drives my family crazy. On this project, I have tried to dial it back some, but sadly I don’t think I have been successful.

On the other hand, I am not great at the follow-through. The Great Coat Closet Remodel Project? Unfinished. Quilts for my parents? Unfinished. Bathroom remodeling? Unfinished. Home decluttering? Definitely unfinished!

I believe that this is must be a genetically inherited trait. My father is the same way, though I think I am worse. Both my parents strive for perfection in the things that they do. They never “half-ass” anything. Now that they are older, they are struggling with letting go and hiring some of the work done. I completely sympathize with them. My thoughts have always been “If you want something done right, do it yourself”.

It is hard to write this next part without sounding braggy and self-absorbed, but I am intelligent. I was always in the gifted classes at school. I work logic puzzles to relax. One time when I was a kid (like 9), I checked out a book on Latin from the library and learned some Latin, just for fun on summer break. My job requires computer programming in multiple languages, with some extremely convoluted algorithms involved. I watch the Big Band Theory and laugh hysterically at all the science references. My favorite joke is a science joke that, when I tell it, no one gets. I am a giant nerd.

I am also somewhat of a control freak. So when something needs to be fixed, changed, enhanced, remodeled, renovated, or repaired, I want to try it myself. If I don’t know how to do it, I want to learn. Because I am a geek who likes learning new things.

I love learning new things.

Six years ago, I moved to my current job doing Java programming. I had very little experience with Java programming, but I am able to talk to users and programmers and translate between the two, so I was hired. I spent the next six months learning Java every night.

A year ago, I decided to remodel my closet. I knew nothing about drywall, spackling, working with armored cable, or installing recessed lights, but I hit the internet and learned how.

15 years ago, I decided to take up running. I had been walking for exercise and it just didn’t feel like enough of a “work out”. I hit the internet and the library, joined every internet forum I could find (there was only one, I think), and then hit the roads.

20 years ago, I thought quilting looked interesting. So I checked out some books from the library and taught myself.

When I was 16, I saw a picture of a woman knitting. She looked like she was enjoying herself. So, you guessed it, I checked out some books from the library and taught myself.

In all these cases, when I decided to learn something new, it became the singular focus of my life for a period of time. Some part of my brain was also thinking about it, planning, scheming, looking forward to the next time I would get to practice my newly acquired skills. I spend a lot of time looking ahead, imagining, and dreaming.

I rarely spend time in the present.

The only time that I am really in the present, is when I am running. Sometimes, when I am running, I will realize that I have not had a conscious thought for several minutes. My ever-spinning squirrel-brain is quiet. Quiet. Empty. Peaceful.

Sometimes, when I stop and look at my daughter, doing whatever she might be doing, I am in the present as well. I just look at her and think about how great she is.

And sometimes, when the weather is nice and we have the windows open, I will just lie on the bed and listen to the world. Birds chirping, kids playing, a lawnmower in the distance, leaves rustling on the tree outside my window. It’s beautiful. The present.

This year, one of my goals has been to try to capture some of that in my every day life. One of my New Year’s resolutions was to spend 5 minutes a day meditating or sitting quietly. I have not been very successful at this goal so far. But I put it on my calendar every day, because it is something that I truly want to achieve.

My focus for this week (which I will put in the “Focus for the Week” box of my Passion Planner, because it’s that important) is to spend 5 minutes a day in the present. Whether it be in meditation, sitting quietly and trying to empty my mind, or lying quietly and taking notice of the world around me, I will devote 5 minutes a day to being in the present. It’s only 5 minutes. I hope eventually to work up to a longer period, as well as live more in the present throughout each day, but for now – 5 minutes. 5 minutes is a start. 5 minutes is do-able.

With the roads covered with snow by Blizzard-zilla! prohibiting a daily run, and the upcoming stressful month at work, I will need these 5 minutes a day to quiet my mind.

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