This past Sunday, for the first time in about two months, I was able to shower without interruptions during the weekend. My 2.5 year old didn’t barge in, eager to show me what he was doing. My husband didn’t need help finding a new pack of diapers. My 5 month old slept through her whole morning nap. I stood under the shower head, feeling the hot water flood over and me and thought with a mixture of relief and happiness, “well, at least I got a great shower this morning!”
I am often amazed that I have grown to distill such pleasure and appreciation from isolated, peaceful moments even when those are surrounded by solid chaos. This wasn’t always the case for me.
When I was younger, I would read books by Eckhart Tolle and wonder “how exactly am I supposed to sink into the present moment—and even enjoy it—when there are things in my life that worry me?” Tolle’s words would trail me: Are you currently interacting with that troublesome family member? If not, let him or her go. Are you currently working on finding a new job? If not, don’t think about your career. Is your apartment currently flooded? If not, stop stressing about the fact that the building you live in is a mess. But it wasn’t easy for me to shake off the icky feeling of concern that often plagued me—even while enjoying a warm pain au chocolat and a latte on a sunny morning.
Looking back at the way I used to operate versus the way I operate now, I see the difference is I no longer expect life to be seamless. I used to think that problems were the anomaly. They needed to be solved in order for life to be able to continue on its merry way. The same went for inconveniences. Metros running late, meetings being rescheduled at the last minute, air conditioning units deciding to go bust in the middle of hot, sticky summers—they were deviations from the plan. I had to get rid of them as I would get rid of crumbs on a clean, crisp tablecloth.
Now I realize it’s all life. Problems and inconveniences are not the intruder that’s getting in the way of life. It’s like the roads we drive on every day. We don’t expect them to be bump-less or without red lights.
And so long as everyone is healthy and we have enough for our needs, I am able to maintain a balanced perspective and roll with the punches. On good days, I even embrace the hurdles as an opportunity to see what I am made of or to show my son how to laugh off troubles.
Getting out of the house this morning was a little harder than usual. In the midst of the madness, I whisked my son into my arms and placed him in his car seat. When we arrived at his school, I realized I had forgotten his shoes! I had to drive all the way back home with him and the baby to pick up them up. But as we were returning to school via a pretty back road, my son was quietly staring out the window, my daughter was sleeping, I was listening to the news while sipping on some still-hot tea (thank you, Swell bottle!) and noticing the leaves beginning to turn.
Despite the fact that I would be late to work, I had a crushing to-do list awaiting me, and most of the time my life feels chaotic, I was able to sink into the moment and honestly say: “right here, right now, it’s all good!”
I finally got you, Eckhart Tolle!