The ego’s greatest enemy of all is the present moment
When we live in the present moment, what is, simply is. There is no judgement, no expectation, no can or can’t, no should or shouldn’t.
I met a potential coaching client the other day, wanting to explore how they could spend less of their time in a worried state. The brief conversation led to me being curious about worrying. Its intent, patterns of behaviour, structure, purpose etc.
In pondering my own experience I notice that I don’t typically worry when I’m in a really good mood. When things are joyous, happy, positive, worry seems to be absent?
The next thing I notice is that worry seems to be in two broad forms – imagining a future potential scenario or assessing a past one. I worry about something that might or might not happen, or I worry about what I’ve just done, or not done. This leads me to notice that worry seems to be neutral in some way – it shows no favoritism to good or bad, might or might not, did or didn’t.
Worry seems to be a state of disablement. Worry, in a sense, stops me acting. It occupies me … with worry. I don’t know that worry achieves anything other than keeping us busy. I am reminded of this quote (attributed to a number of people)…
Worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but it gets you nowhere.
I have also met people for whom worry becomes a state of existence. They develop beliefs about the need to worry in order to be themselves. Worrying develops a heightened state of challenge that delivers, it seems to them, a better result.
Curious that we worry.
That’s enough worrying about worry for now. Time to just be.
In our business, when claiming expenses, we have to post receipts to the relevant finance department. Their office is in a building over the road from mine, so today I wandered over to drop off some receipts in person.
Meanwhile a form with its monochrome content of figures and descriptions, constituting my expense claim, was coursing its way through the invisible veins of our finance system, pausing in a workflow for the arrival of its life affirming sister receipts. Proof of its very right to exist. Its stamp of validity.
I arrived in the office to discover there was an in-tray, on top of filing cabinet. A plastic in-tray with a laminated sign, propped up to indicate its purpose in life. ‘Expenses receipts’
I dropped in my receipts, stapled to a copy of my claim form.
I paused. There is something strangely reassuring about an in-tray.
I’m old enough to remember in-trays and out-trays. The satisfaction of processing work to empty the in-tray and move it to the out-tray. Work arriving, often in envelopes, departed in much the same way,dropping into the internal mail system to wend its way to the next person in the work chain, safely enshrined in a manilla envelope, carefully addressed to the next recipient. As for the pending tray – what the … was that all about?!
In our modern world, much has improved. Much is to be embraced.
This morning though, my brief dalliance with an old friend, the in-tray, led me to reminisce.
For all the joy of the new, we still enjoy hanging on to the familiar sometimes.
We do this in most aspects of our lives. Fond throw backs to times gone by. Favourites from the past. Comfort blankets that all is well with the world.
This morning, a humble in-tray was my comfort blanket somehow.
Photo: Elky-Lou on Deviant Art
The next time you have a thought… let it go
We can become slave to our heads.
We ping pong between the past and the future. What has happened and what might happen. What we need to do. What we did or didn’t do. Experiences we have had. Opportunities to come. Lists of things to do. Things we did, or should have done.
Our thoughts begin to run us.
I must do this…
If only I hadn’t…
What did I say…?
When can I…?
Find instead a place where the mind is quiet. The body is present.
The space to be.
When I was a teenager, telephone boxes were how you communicated when outside the home. They were on every street corner. Red, glass and steel boxes that served as communication portals to friends, family, emergency services and, most importantly, they served to secure you a lift back home after a night out. Now of course they are almost non existent. Back then, I took them for granted. I couldn’t conceive of the telephone box being in my pocket.
All of us take things for granted.
Things that just are. Things we have known to be so, for so long, we simply don’t question them.
And the challenge with noticing the things we take for granted is… well, we take them for granted.
In a sense they become invisible to us.
Looking back in time can provide clues as to things we once all took for granted. One hundred years ago, 25% of us would have been servants. Many would have taken that for granted. Telling the time required a pocket watch, subsequently a wrist watch. We carried the time with us. That was just how it was. Now, the time is everywhere in our digital world, and fewer kids wear watches. Fires were how we kept warm, now we have central heating, under floor heating.
Just 15 years ago, access to the Internet would only have been possible in certain locations with specific equipment. Now we take for granted we can access it anywhere anytime, on many devices. And when we can’t, we become frustrated. We almost take it for granted now. Soon we will.
Just living day to day, many of us take things for granted. Having a roof over our heads. Food to eat. Sleeping. Clothes. Cars. Roads. Water. Toilets. Power. The sun coming up. Language. Medicines. Microwaves. Refrigerators. Government. Peace.
Of course, taking some of these things for granted is fine, for the most part.
The question is, what do you currently take for granted that closes your mind to possibility?
What can you not see, because something you take for granted, just is? It’s there obstructing your ability to see things differently.
Don’t take for granted what you take for granted.
To most it signifies dressing up, makeup, trick or treat. Probably pumpkins, with cut outs illuminated by candle, casting an eerie visage? Maybe a party, maybe a bonfire and fireworks?
I wonder how many revellers realise that many believe it is a night to remember the dead? Those martyrs, saints and believers who have passed on. Lighting candles is thought to attract their souls.
Of course, as with much that is ritualistic and ancient, there are other theories too. We simply cannot be sure.
We don’t need religious or historic events though to carry with us to the present day a misnomer or false interpretation of reality. Many of us do it with our own memories … and we were actually there when they happened!
Often a childhood memory lives with us. But often it is distorted, mis-remembered. It carries the understanding of the child. Parts of the actual occurrence are deleted, parts twisted to fit our childhood emotional need, parts simply forgotten in the story. Yet we run this edited inaccurate story throughout our adult lives. It holds us, trapped in a mythical past, caught in a story of fiction and we behave today as if it were true. We carry the remnants of the experience in the form of a broken relationship or a belief about ourselves that no longer serves. It was probably never true, but we made it so, and now we have run it as a video, or heard it as a story in our heads, so many times that we hold it to be a reality. It now controls us. Limits us. Makes us smaller.
Maybe we would be well served to honour it as dead? Just like the souls Halloween remembers? Maybe we would be well served to think of it as a myth, a fable, a misinterpreted story of long ago? Maybe we should move on and pay more attention to now?
Treat yourself, don’t trick yourself.
Look after your soul, not that of a long dead memory.
“Inspiration could be called inhaling the memory of an act never experienced”