There was not a single dull moment for me in 2012, that’s for sure. Last year brought me the best year of teaching I ever had, a few new blogging gigs, our new house, a failed attempt at publishing a book, a resolution not to spread myself too thin, and a host of decisions that have given me a clearer picture of what I want my life to look like.
For these reasons, 2012 was a wonderful, illuminating, and formative year, but the problem with having a year of huge changes like last year was is that all the shifting and decision-making makes it really difficult to just be present.
I found being present difficult last year for a number of reasons. First, even if I was doing something I loved, I was thinking about doing something else I loved. When I was teaching, I was thinking about articles to write or my book. When I was writing, I was thinking about spending time with Tim. When I was spending time with Tim, I was thinking about cleaning the house. OK, so maybe I didn’t love doing that last one, but it definitely gave me a sense of purpose. Not once do I remember being in the moment and loving it.
Second, is the great feeling of inadequacy that seems to be plaguing my late twenties. So many of my friends are doing huge and important things with their lives. Some friends are getting their PhD’s or second Masters, some are having babies, some are writing books, some are picking up everything to move across the country either for love or an amazing job opportunity. At some point in my life, I’ve idly or actively pursued all of these things, but gave up on all of them to get married, buy a house, adopt two dogs, teach high school English and do freelance writing on the side, and probably have a kid. Even though the decision to do these things has seemed monumental to me, and even though I know I’m doing amazing things, it never seems like enough. As I buy into my life path more and more, I still can’t help but feel that I should maybe be doing something more. I crave the presence of mind to be fully content with my choices and not feel as if I’m not doing enough.
In her book, Moving Beyond Words, Gloria Steinem says, “I’ve always had two tracks running in my head. THe pleasurable one was thinking forward to some future scene, imagining what should be, planning on the edge of fantasy. The other played underneath with all too realistic fragments of what I should have done. There it was in perfect microcosm, the past and future coming together to squeeze out the present – which is the only time in which we can be fully alive… These past and future tracks have gradually dimmed until they are rarely heard. More and more, there is only the full, glorious, alive-in-the-moment, don’t-give-a-damn yet caring-for-everything sense of the right now.” These words speak to me; I have spent so much time feeling as if things will be better at a certain point, but also regretting not taking the time to do something I wanted to do. My past and future most definitely squeeze out the present. I crave Steinem’s “full, glorious, alive-in-the-moment, don’t-give-a-damn yet caring-for-everything sense of the right now.” I crave the ability to be fully present in my life.
In lieu of a bunch of resolutions for 2013, I am going to focus on the word present as part of the One Word 365 challenge. I chose the word “present” because it has so many wonderful meanings. It is the space between the past and the future, it is a gift, and it is a state of being. I want to focus on all aspects of this word as the year goes on. Each week, I’ll check in here and let you know how it’s going. I hope that this will be an eye-opening, yet centering exercise for me, and I’m glad to have you all along for the ride.
Are you taking part in One Word 365? If so, share your word in the comments! If not, it’s never too late to start!