“Wherever you are, be there. If you can be fully present now, you’ll know what it means to live.” ― Steve Goodie
I’ve been on a recharge vacation for the past five days. Every summer, we go to a ranch in the mountains for a week with our dogs. We stay in a sweet little cabin that looks out on a seven acre lake. We swim, hike, read fiction, cook delicious meals, sleep in and take naps every day. In a word, this place is paradise. It’s an oasis from the busyness that fills so much of the rest of the year. It always takes a couple of days for me to shift into a lower gear and adjust to the quiet simplicity. And then it takes another couple of days to feel like I’ve finally caught up on much needed rest.
Several times a day, we take a half-mile a walk around the lake and I always take my camera. I’ve shot the same scenery now for the past five years, but every year, every day and even different times throughout the day, it always looks different. When I stop long enough observe how the current of the lake changes as the wind shifts direction, how the interplay of light varies as the sun moves across the horizon, and even how the one lone duck always maintains a lap of distance from his family, I’m reminded of what’s possible when I’m not rushing―when I’m able to be more present. I am struck by nuance I don’t appreciate unless I make the time to be still, attentive and mindful of the beauty all around me.
Yesterday, one of my friends posted a question (yes, unfortunately we discovered there is internet service here this year). His question was, “What is one word that describes the first half of this year for you?” I responded, “Busy.” He wrote back, “Busy doesn’t count. Write something else.” So I responded, “Full.”
As I thought about my second response to his post, what I should have said was, “Too full.” I’ve had the most fruitful year in my business I’ve ever had, but I’ve also crowded my life with so much work, travel and activity, that as I notice the reflection of the tall pine trees mirroring themselves below in the lake, it reminds me I need to course correct and reflect on my own life: To focus on being more present to the beauty around me every day. To not let increasing demands crowd out what’s most important. To make sure I get the rest, play and contemplative space I need to thrive. To be as grateful for the life I have now as I am for the one I’m creating.
Being too busy is a good problem to have, but it can be a problem nonetheless. It’s easy to get caught up in the trance of busyness for its’ own sake, without being mindful of the cost it can extract. So today, as I gaze out at the ripples dancing in the lake inviting me to be here now, I invite you to do the same. To take a few minutes and take a break from the busyness of your life wherever you are, to reflect on and commit to being present to the things you hold most dear.
If you’ve felt the busyness in your life crowding out what’s most important, what’s one step you might take each day that would help you be more present: To yourself? To others? To what you hold most dear? How could taking this action improve the quality of your life and relationships? How could being more present help you know what it really means to live?