In the animal kingdom, humans are a species with a highly developed sense of time. We know past, present, and future and often try to imagine time frames that dwarf our own life spans.
Waiting, the theme for this week’s Photo Challenge, implies expectations of future events. “I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop…” or for the adventure to begin. When waiting seems like a waste of time, it’s because the thing to come is more valuable to you than the present moment. However, if you look at it another way, the present moment is the only real moment and therefore more valuable.
To wait well and gracefully may be to enjoy the present moment and allow the future moment to unfold “all in due time”.
Beneath all the superimposed hype of culture, politics, economics, religion and whatever else may be influencing your perception of reality, there is a simple place called Now. It is unique and bravely wild each time you visit. There may be familiar elements, but they are new every moment, like water that may be solid, liquid or gas and may change at any time. To enter fully into this Now, bring no expectations, no ‘shoulds’ or ‘ought to be’. Be open and aware of what is around you. Your attention, appreciation, and gratitude are welcome. You may notice a profound joy arising within you the more time you spend in this Now. This is the Present, a free gift.
1984 – It’s my wedding day. The weather is chilly and foggy in Northern California. I am too excited to sleep late. I have a date with my fiance for a morning meeting. He comes to pick me up at my parents’ house. My grandmother is aghast that we are seeing each other before arriving at the church; it’s just not done. But we know what we want. We want to focus on each other, on the meaning the day has for us personally before being caught up in the ritual. We park the car under some oak trees in the foothills. We decide it’s too damp and cold to walk, so we sit in the car and talk. We are calm and happy. He drops me off at the house. The next time I see Jim, he is standing at the altar, grinning. I take his hand. I notice it’s cold and clammy, so unlike the warm bear paw I expect. I smile at him. He’s caught up in excitement. The wedding mass is a long event. We emerge from the church and see sunlight for the first time that day. It doesn’t last long. The reception in the Parish Hall is intimate and bustling. It’s dark when we leave. I get home and change. My mother takes care of the dress. The station wagon is packed with my belongings, gifts, and leftover bottles of champagne. We drive south to Pebble Beach. I’m hungry. I hope the restaurant at the inn is still open by the time we get there. We find we are able to get sandwiches at the bar. We retire to our room. I feel so incredibly grown up; in one day, I’ve suddenly matured. I’m married. I’m 21 years old.
January 7 – this morning
The sun comes in the southeast window, and I begin to stir. As my mind brightens, I remember the day. Steve is sleeping beside me. I pull out the battered photo album from the box in the corner and settle back on the bed. Was it really cloudy that day? I flip through the pages in front of me, my mind turning over more leaves than my fingers. My phone beeps. My daughter is texting me to let me know she’s thinking of me today. Her baby face smiles at me from a photograph. She will be turning 30 in a few weeks. Steve begins to stir. I look at his face as his eyes open. “What are you doing here?” he asks. That’s a good question! “It’s a long story,” I laugh. But that doesn’t really answer the question. I am living. I am aware now of the present moment. As I look around, I see the beauty of this day, this year. The air is cold and dry. The trees outside are bare, the branches dusted with snow. I look down at my left hand. It is lined by swollen veins and wrinkles. There’s a brown spot just there. I have a ring on my index finger with a blue topaz heart set in it. No other rings. My fingers press Steve’s arm. “I am waking up. And you?” “I am Steve-ing.”