Perhaps I proselytize too often here, preach of things I’ve no business preaching about, perhaps I wax poetic about the strange thoughts that rise in me, assume they carry more value than they do. Perhaps they are worthless, in truth, pennies dropped into fountains I can’t even see, wishing wells in the shape of you, all of you that carry my echo out in the dark. Perhaps, but I know no other way, I spill when there’s too much, pour out like a dam bursting, and I only hope the water that comes does not flood. I trust you to tell me otherwise, trust you to ring in and hit me with honesty, as what’s the point without it? For now, I’ll keep saying what I feel, I’ll keep feeling what I cannot help but feel, and I’ll keep turning all the ‘too much’ I absorb into something that hopefully loosely resembles art, though who am I to know what art is, what it should be, what it means? Today, that spilling comes in the form of something I notice happening more and more, in my own life, in the lives of those I love, in the lives of the whole wide world outside my doorstep, and that noticing reached a point of filling that was too much to not empty it. Today, is that emptying, as today is so very often stolen, and I want to dive into that.
It’s fair to say we’ve heard about mindfulness more in these past few years than ever before. It’s been hashtagged, it’s been Insta Storied, it’s been click baited, it’s been headlined across every device we have. Now, more than ever, they say, we need to be mindful, we need to teach ourselves the skills to stay in the present and not float away into the past, or worse, the fears of the future. I know, you’re probably sick of hearing it, but the thing is, there’s more truth here than even I was comfortable admitting. Problem is, I’ve noticed the unfortunate and altogether avoidable trend of losing all our ‘todays’ for yesterdays and tomorrows in myself, in those closest to me, and in so many people that reach out. In a sense, this essay is the fourth in a series of sorts, a series I didn’t see coming and didn’t intend on writing, but I think great truths find a way to surface in ourselves whether we like it or not. The first, “Born for the Dark Road” was published on the 20th of February, the second that followed it, was “I am Redefining Home,” on the 27th, and the third was “And Nothing Changes” on March 20th. They all are companion pieces to one another, little bits of advice and truth and observation as to the state of things, and my simple ideas on how we might break out of the cycles we get trapped in. What they all add up to is the idea that we are more in control of our own destiny than we may think, that we have within us the skills and abilities to not only dictate the life we want to lead, but to manifest it from almost nothing at all, if only we ask the right questions, at the right times.
To ask someone to stop worrying is like asking someone to be in a better mood when they very clearly aren’t. It’s f’ing hard. We KNOW we want to worry less, we know we want to cheer up and not be so damn grumpy, but sometimes the pointing out of it all only pushes us further into it. No one wants to worry about the future, wants to feel apprehension or hesitation for some future event that’s still a speck on the horizon, but we still do. It’s natural, it’s forgivable, it’s even obvious lately, as the future hasn’t been a shining beacon of safety and positivity for literally two straight years. Similarly, it’s really hard to not glance over our shoulder from time to time, to regret all we’ve done, or even more heartbreakingly, all we haven’t but should have. This too is natural, and I know from hearing from so many of you, so very man from this Signal Fire, to my social medias, to my email, that while you may know deep-down that it is normal, you can’t quite remember that fact, and you’re far too hard on yourselves for the forgetting.
Plain and simple, we lose today by worrying about the future, by glancing over those shoulders and filling our time and energy with regret. Worry and regret are only helpful tools if they help you adjust course and avoid the same mistakes again, anything beyond that and they are nothing more than debilitating and frustrating spectres that haunt our days. As a whole, we’ve all been haunted far too often, and I think it is high time for an exorcism. I’ve a few tips to offer up, and you can take them or leave them as you please. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, inundated with fears about the future or woulda-shoulda-couldas about the past, maybe give them a go, maybe try something new to break out of the cycle and bring you back to yourself, to your present, to the beauty that’s all around you. Here’s a few:
Start by actually committing to being more present. Too often we think we should do something without actually making a plan to do so. Write it down, tell those around you to hold you accountable. Key here is, don’t be grumpy with them when they remind you to come back, they are only trying to help after all.
Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. In through your nose for 4 seconds, hold it for 6 seconds, exhale through your mouth for 8 seconds. Do this over and over again until your mind begins to clear.
When you drift, start by returning your own body. Feel your fingertips, flex each muscle individually, focus on the physical sensations your body is experiencing, all 5 of them.
One. Thing. At. A. Time. I know multi-tasking has its place, but for this, we’re going to be present in every single thing we do, one at a time. If you’re doing the dishes, DO the dishes, if you’re eating, Eat, don’t also do 5 other things walking around the house with your plate in your hand. Minor shifts lead to major changes.
Forgive. If you’re holding anger, frustration, or sadness towards yourself or someone else, now is the time to let it go. Move forward, the past is the past, and all we can do is change our present. We forget that changing our present changes our future. Magic, no?
Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. 4-6-8. You got this.
I could go on, for ages I could go on, but starting small is often a better predictor of success so let us begin there. 6 little tips to start you off on a new foot, to step gently out of the same loops we have been wearing into our lives for years.
IF I could add a 7th, it’d go along with the first, and it’d be to reach out when you need help. There’s a community here now, a thriving, beautiful community, of so many like minded people (even those that haven’t started actively commenting and joining in, we see you, we love you) that are more than able, more than willing, and more than ready to help. Me at the top of that list. Reach out, lean on others, and voice the hurdles you’re facing. Nothing is scarier than the unknown, and while we leave them unnamed in the darker parts of our minds, they become wolves, they become dragons. Drag them into the light, let them be known for how small they are.
Let’s begin today, together. More present, more connected, more free to become who we need to become, and love who we have already.
Today is stolen
with the thought of tomorrow,
or a backwards glance.