There are so many mundane tasks that can consume us on an every day basis. Between answering emails, calling the plumber for that leak in the bathroom, folding laundry, rushing to drop off carpool, rushing to pick up carpool, organizing the garage for the umpteenth time, meeting with the accountant, taxes, cursing out the accountant, thanking the accountant…..the list can be endless. Now what if on top of all these mundane yet necessary tasks our days are also consumed with past hurt or past resentments that haunt us? And what if our days are consumed with the wish that the future can be different? Can we really conquer being in the moment when the moment seems to look like a string of mundane activity coupled with living in our bad childhoods and living in our goal-less bleak future?
How do we stay in the moment without wishing and hoping this moment ends with ease? On top of all that, if we are struggling to overcome the traumatizing past that haunts our every day thinking like being consumed with regrets we may have, or unlived dreams we haven’t had time to pursue, or the endless frustration of finding that perfect job, that perfect soul mate, that perfect health remedy then the moment becomes even more over reaching and can seem like an impossible dream.
Is it really possible- and necessary to live in “The Moment?”
“The Missing Tile”
Before we answer that question, lets take a look at how we ended up the anxiety riddled mess we have become, shall we? When our mind is completely consumed by the missing tile, it is nearly impossible to live “in the moment.” It is literally impossible to embrace the here and now. Throw in a couple of mundane tasks that seem like we are getting nowhere, that seem like a string of “hamster in a cage have to’s” and suddenly we are really filled with anxiety like a volcano brewing over ready to explode. Suddenly our mind shifts to thoughts of what we have to do, to moments of dread of thinking how we got here in the first place, how our past has dictated our present moment to being this dreadful, how our future is so bleak we can’t even fathom changing this extraordinary predictable sucky routine, and we are left depressed. We are left drained, we are left uninspired, and we are left where we started off, hopeless. Sound familiar? Wait. It gets better-
“The Blame Game”
Hopelessness leads to what I like to call “The Blame Game.” Suddenly all we can think of is being in last year’s fight, where we get to blame the lazy spouse, the guy in corporate who figured out a way to take our promotion after taking credit for all our hard work, or the alcoholic parent for everything we’re going through today in this lousy moment. Or we blame our kids for making that mess in the kitchen, forcing us to have to take time to clean sloppy tomato sauce off the white tile floor from doing what we think will get us to that better place. Who picks white tile anyway? Idiots! Or we blame Jim at Starbucks for giving us 2% milk, when we asked for the whole kitten kaboodle fat junk. Really is there any other way to drink coffee? There’s always that blame game that can take us away from the moment. The blame game is actually the perfect remedy for never having to look at the moment. It’s why we all do it, because it works. And lets face it, the moment sucks.
“The Numbing Out Solution”
But the blame game also leaves us feeling really irritated with everyone around us. As a result of feeling so detached we figure out ways to isolate, alienate and procrastinate. Just to make sure we don’t overwhelm the world with our presence, and to soothe the chatter of blaming everyone in our heads, we numb out. We over caffeinate, over quaalude, over drink, over mind numb on Youtube videos of teenagers singing the next American Idol covers, over iphone, over ipad, over ipod. We over I. We over indulge in the self, and not in a productive way. We basically become those fat jolly people in the movie Wall-E who sit in overstuffed chairs plugged in while over calorizing ourselves on corn fed burgers and processed potatoes fried in lard to make us fill whole again. (Or pizza- or both. Who are we kidding- its both!)
“The Green Solution” (Not the kind that cleans up earth)
The I is a tricky monster and it really likes being liked. So after a few days of isolating, eventually our egos have to rejoin the human race- just so nobody notices how sucked into the vortex of self we have so valiantly allowed ourselves to indulge in. But we can’t get too ambitious about it. It’s been weeks of total isolation, lets ease into this human deal thing slowly, shall we? So we get on social media to find out what the world is up to. We check our Facebook, our Twitter, our Linked-in, our Pinterest pages. We make a few happy birthday wishes, so people think we care more about them then our sick selves. Also our birthday is coming up, so we gotta get on that, cause tit is for tat, right? We also find out Sal and his wife Sandra went on a Disney cruise, Lindsay Lohan is getting paid even more money to live her dysfunctional life- on camera, John Something got 28 congratulations for getting his new job, and Kimmie the third grade mommy has an actual page on Pinterest with every photograph of her newly designed home that she managed to design after watching the Nate Berkis show. Now the green color is blurring our vision and we are really consumed with how everyone else is managing to do it right while we have spent the last 1900 days over stuffing our brain matter with numbing control that just verifies why living in the moment is impossible and not worth the effort anyway- cause who can keep up with all that? I don’t even watch Nate Berkis- dammit.
“Give yourself a Pass”
The truth is, living in the moment takes effort, it takes brain working, not brain numbing, it takes connection, it takes a lot of getting it wrong before we get it right. In the Jewish religion we have this thing called “Passover.” If one studies this holiday deeply, we realize that every year we get to celebrate Passover. Not just every other year or every five years, but EVERY SINGLE year. There are no Passovers on Passover. It’s been 18 years that I’ve been making Passover. When I say make, I mean host. When I say host, I mean cook till my fingers bleed. Every year its pretty the same, I do my paper good runs, my meat and fish runs, my veggie and fruit runs. Our family basically has to completely reintroduce a new diet, which is pretty much of the Paleo family. We eliminate all bread and flour products except for a flat bread called "Matzah" made out of wheat and flour that takes less than a cracker and more like cardboard. We clean the whole house getting rid of any morsels of bread and get new clothes, because that’s part of it. (That’s what I tell my husband anyway.) We cook everything from scratch, including salad dressings. I even make my own horseradish- which takes me into a crying fit- literally. We have to figure out how to pay for this massive reinvention of our lifestyle every year, and by some miracle, every year we accomplish it bravely. We reconnect with family for 48 straight hours the first two days and the last two days of this 8-day holiday without any electronic distractions. Don’t ever complain about Christmas being one day. Trust me. We get to enter this completely idyllic world where we connect beautifully with those around us. Isolating is not an option. Sometimes it’s not so beautiful. A lot of times it is messy. We end up fighting and our crazy mind that has been mind-numbed for the past few months slowly has to be churned into a real working device where our feelings become ever so present. Our fears finally bubble to the surface. Our hopes and dreams are no longer being pushed to the back stove. Suddenly real conversations begin emerging and the work of personal freedom becomes inevitable. Mind numbing on the internet is not an option. What is an option is being very present and staying in the moment. What is an option is becoming very aware of our prayers. We become aware of our personal slavery we have allowed our brains to indulge in far longer than we should have allowed. After day 2 of this “cleanse” we suddenly begin to feel free. Our egos are being fed a healthy dose of humble pie- literally the Matzah we eat is called “Bread of Affliction.” It is meant to cure our malady of self-depravity. It is meant to remind us how important it is to not just stay in the moment, but to embrace it with our spirit, with our deep-rooted faith and with our whole being.
We do study our past, but only in how it relates to uplifting our present. We do go back to the beginning and reiterate our stories about our slavery, not because we wish to dwell on our despondency, but as a way to learn from the past and realize how deeply connected we are to our ancestors who continually teach us how to make sense of our personal slaveries that we experience and sometimes self inflict on ourselves in our every day lives. We do discuss the future, but not in how our future is to be determined by a bleak state of mind, but in how important it is to look at the future with a new slate, with hope and excitement for the impossible that is possible. The last phrase we say two nights in a row are “Next year in Jerusalem.” Meaning, next year, we will have a different sort of year. We will have the opportunity to become what today we never expected we had in us. It is only by embracing the moment with courage and joy that a clear picture of our future can emerge, and the weight of our past can lift.
We do this practice every single year. So that just when life gets adjusted at looking at that missing tile, and we become consumed by all the green negative that does not allow us to look at the moment, the Moment arrives, whether we are ready for it or not and tells us to stay connected to it with all our being. Just when we think the moment is unattainable it tells us to hold on and breathe through the mundane tasks, to realize we can transform every minute into meaningful moments, not just irritating repetitious routines. And no matter how wrong we get it the first half of the year, we get a good reminder midway that the best is yet to come. All we have to do is let it in one moment at a time.