The search for the soul is found by experiencing the newness of life in the fleeting moments of the present.
It sometimes amazes me how infrequently we take time out of our “busy schedules” to just be. It is so easy to get caught up in all of the trials and tribulations of life that we forget to enjoy the peace and tranquility of a moment.
I have felt rushed lately. Busy with lots of things to do, yet feeling like I am accomplishing nothing. It’s quite a frustrating feeling because it means that time is passing and I am doing, but rarely am I stopping to just be.
The irony is that it takes less than a second to bring me back to the place that I can find this comfort and solace. I simply need to take a deep breath, place my feet on the ground, look with the right kind of eyes, listen to the wind, smell the freshly cut grass, or gently run my hands under the faucet. All of those actions are simple in and of themselves, but most of the time I am not fully present while I am engaging in them.
When I am rushing to get out of the house because I am late for an appointment, I seldom notice that I am running my hands under cold water or that I am running toothbrush over my teeth. As I jog to the car, I disregard where I am stepping or what it feels like for my rubber soles on the concrete path. While I am driving from my house to the coffee shop, I watch the road and check the mirrors, but I am only looking at what is not there rather than what is. When I feel the cool of the air from the open car windows, I don’t notice the smell or sounds of the world around unless they are pungent or annoyingly loud.
All this is to say: There is more to life than the semi-conscious reality in which we sometimes find ourselves trapped. The busy schedules, impossible to-do lists, and litany of meetings cause our minds to be a-twitter. And although we yearn for constant connectedness, it is not the way to live life fully, rather simply a way to live life. We may seem to know all that is going on around us, but what do we really know?
I recently suggested to a friend travelling abroad that the search for the soul is found by experiencing the newness of life in the fleeting moments of the present. I too am about to embark on a journey to Prague and I relish the opportunity to live in this state. I yearn for the mystique of a new land and new sights. I am eager to explore a new world with new eyes.
And yet, it has been in the preparation for this trip that I have found the same feeling of excitement here at home. I have discovered the very excitement and allure in my own backyard – literally.
This past weekend, we decided to just stay at home and enjoy the fruits of our own community. On Friday, we dined at Chez Albert in Amherst center, which we have been meaning to try for quite a while, on Sunday morning, we biked from Amherst to Northampton on the bike path, and on Sunday afternoon we took shelter in our new hammock.
In this breath of fresh air, we discovered the same aliveness, excitement and expansiveness that one finds exploring new lands. Except, it was not new, it was just the right kind of eyes and attitude that made it feel different. It’s certainly not an indescribable feeling; in fact, I’d venture to say it’s one that we all know very, very well. The difference, however, is that we rarely notice due to the speed at which we live our lives. We rarely take the time to appreciate the simple pleasures and the pleasurable simplicity that we call home.
The challenge I put to you is to be present and aware in the everyday activities of brushing your teeth, starting your car, brewing your coffee, and living your life. Because there you will find what you have been searching for and the search will go on…
Here I am, present; I am in the process of searching right now for the essence of my being. You need not wait for me to travel to find you again.
I am here…
I am searching…
And the present, or shall I say presence, is you…