From WORK by Thich Nhat Hahn
It’s a simple idea that grows in dimension when put into practice. Although I brought a great deal of history to this meditation, reading this section revealed that I had some work to do. I first learned one day at a time more than 20 years ago. Furthermore, in the wake of a serious concussion 5 years ago, I struggled with cognition to such a degree that I was forced to live in the present moment for literally years as my brain healed. While my history could be the subject of lengthy reflection, that is not the intention of this post. In fact, I felt relief as I read the words - “We have the GIFT of 24 hours.” Therefore, I decided to walk into this meditation.
I immediately thought of Mary Oliver’s quote: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life.” A gate opened within me. I began to view some of my present day health challenges through a new lens, that of the present day. I live with a nervous system that requires balance and pacing. Some days I am filled with energy, and others I have none. There are days when I need to rest, and there are days that I have the ability to do amazing things. When the awareness of this moment re-entered my consciousness, I realized that I can release the fear that I am failing to live up to my calling in art and ministry (in addition to any number of other perceived failures), and replace it with a deep trust that this moment is perfect exactly as it is.
Living in the moment is challenging when I am attempting to balance what I did yesterday with what I want to do tomorrow. Therein lies the problem, however. I realized through this meditation that I can pace myself on a moment to moment basis. I began to consider questions that would snap me back to the NOW. What are my present struggles? What are my fears? Are they grounded in the reality of this moment or are they associated with situations that occurred in the past? As I awoke each day, I began to notice that there wasn’t a single worry that emerged first thing in the morning about my health or what I would/would not be able to do; rather, I felt a deep sense of hope and empowerment as I prepared to step out of bed.
This simple shift in perspective has brought a change in the meaning and purpose. Each day, I CHOOSE what I am going to do with this LIFE that I have been given. Over the last two weeks, I have enjoyed the quality of my days more than before. I have also had more energy. My daughter and I were able to complete a sock drive for the homeless and a supply drive for Syria. We celebrated a beautiful Holiday together, visited Snowflake Lane and even managed to brave the BuildABear workshop right after Christmas! At the same time, with an understanding of the importance of balance, I also made choices in the moment to rest. This included several days of allowing my body to heal after a root canal, practicing good self-care when I was fighting a virus, and even going in for IV fluids before I was in a full blown state of emergency. I continue to discover exactly what it means to live in this 24 hours, but the term “walk softly” or “be gentle with myself” tends to suit my process.
I will end this post with this morning. I found myself ruminating on the past when I woke up. Although this wasn’t a negative experience, it wasn’t how I wanted to start my day. Then suddenly, I realized that I was grateful for this 24 hours. I could see a light emerge in my brain almost like a sunrise out of the darkness of deep thought. It brought me immediately into the present moment, and I felt a deep awareness of the enthusiasm to move forward with the GIFT of today.