This is one of those personal ones I warned you about. Just so you know.
Reading the first four chapters of “You Are a Badass” last night caused me some problems. I’m sure a lot of it was lost on me or over my head, but there were portions of what I read that grabbed me like pair of hot pliers, glowing red hot and squeezing the ever loving hell out of my current thoughts. I couldn’t get to sleep last night, because author Jen Sincero made me aware of a pretty big issue in my current mental life. That and probably a little too much Diet Coke before bed, to boot.
I don’t live in the present. I live in the past. I live in the future. But rarely the present.
Sounds a bit wack-a-doo, I know. It’s not that bad though, let me explain.
Jen has some pretty great quotes that pepper the beginning of every chapter in “You Are a Badass”. One in particular reached out and grabbed hold of me and helped kick off this current dawning of self. It goes like this:
“If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” -Lao Tzu
It’s pretty simple, isn’t it? Probably it is. Strong chance I’m missing some deeper hidden meaning. But I don’t think so. It struck me with inspiration, and that’s really what counts.
I’ve had a rough couple of years. Things are trending upwards tremendously here as of late, even before my discovery of “You Are a Badass”. So no need to fret. I’m doing good, so don’t let all this worry you.
Life was good in these past couple of years, don’t get me wrong. My family was great, my lovely wife and daughter always there for support when I needed it. My folks were great, I had a job. Money was tight, but we got by. Hell, I was even super healthy there for a good long bit. But all of it still couldn’t keep me from plunging into a world of self loathing and fear of what was to come. I couldn’t stop waiting for the other foot to drop. I couldn’t stop thinking that something I didn’t do on the way to this point was keeping me from being where me and my family deserved to be. Despite the good things in my life, I couldn’t help but feel that I screwed up somewhere because I failed to provide somewhere along the way, and though we weren’t seeing the effects right now? Surely those effects were going to come.
What I’m trying to say is it was a pretty shitty way to live. Stuck in your own head, not liking yourself very much and stuck in an endless loop of of self imposed misery.
But, that’s not what kept me up last night. No, it was the realization that I have not been living in the present. Not for a good long while.
There was this brief little meditation exercise Jen had you go through somewhere in chapter three as she spoke about being in the present. It was simple; lie still, breath, concentrate on the sound of your breathing, then concentrate on the noises in the still room around you. Which I did. And as I began to zone in, my mind cleared. It was a bit jarring. Suddenly I started to think of things I could manage better with this new found awareness. Projects at work had clear paths to success. My writing ideas and drive started to build. Things didn’t seem so stressful.
I hadn’t been enjoying life as I once had, because my head was too muddled. I was turning over everything in the past few years that I should have done better. I was worrying over what imagined problem that could happen. I was doing that all the time. I was never right here. Right now.
Thinking back to my super healthy years, I realized I felt pretty good at the start of that long road. I worked over the idea in my head and began to think about the times that I felt my best. In those times, I was wrapped up in an obsession with running lots and lots of miles. But my head felt good. I always thought running made me feel good because of the exercise and weight loss factor, but now I saw that it was something else entirely.
It started far more simply than presence and state of mind. I was shocked that me, a perennial fat guy was actually running with out dying. I mean come on, a lot of you that knew me back then were probably pretty surprised too! But after my revelation, I realized it was much more. I spent a lot of time running by myself on the open road. When I did, my mind shut off. The past fell away. The future wasn’t a concern. I listened to music. I concentrated on my breathing. I concentrated on my form. I was fully present with myself. I was in the moment. I was living now. And I was happy.
And now, I think Jen Cincero may be on to something. I think it’s pretty cool. And I’m only on chapter four.
Today, I worked hard at staying in the present. It went pretty well. It’s been a good day, and I’m looking forward to more. I also felt like writing about it, and it felt good. So I felt like sharing with you.