I went through a very busy period last year. I was quickly moving from one task to the next, always rushing and often trying to do more than one thing at once. It was stressful and tiring but I kept telling myself that it was only temporary and soon I’d have time to relax and do some fun things.
Then one day I was forced out of my office by the noise and fumes from a neighbour’s gas wood chipper. I had to get some fresh air, so I went for a walk. It was a beautiful summer day and all I was thinking about was how I needed to get back to work. That’s when it dawned on me that I was wasting a big part of my life!
I was trying to rush through a walk on a lovely day so I could get back to work and then rush through that so I could get to the next thing. How much of my life had I wasted on mindlessly powering through tasks – working, washing dishes, making dinner…? It occurred to me that these are not just tasks I have to do before I can get to my life. They are my life.
So I chose right then to be fully present for the rest of my walk and enjoy it, not just endure it until I could get back to work. I walked past a grove of Japanese Katsura trees and paused to breathe in the aroma. At certain times of the year they smell like cotton candy. I stopped for a few minutes and sat on a bench with a lovely view of the arboretum. I was feeling much more relaxed. I enjoyed the walk because I was both physically and mentally present. I wasn’t walking while mentally already home and working.
I leisurely walked on through the trees, thinking I had it figured out. Everything I do, every task, is a part of life to be savoured. Life was going to be so much better with my new attitude. Then I got to the end of the tranquil forest and began walking through busy city streets on my way home. I started to speed up my pace, thinking that the nice part of my walk was over – the part in nature – and now I just wanted to get home. Fortunately, I realized fairly quickly that my new attitude had just flown the coup and I was right back to my old “I just have to get through this” attitude. Every time I started to veer off into ‘get home quickly’ auto-pilot mode, I reminded myself to savour walking outside on a beautiful sunny day.
So this year I am trying to find pleasure in everything I do, not just the fun things. When I sit down at my desk to work, I am trying to be fully there and savour working. When I stop working to make lunch, I try to leave work behind and savour the experience of making lunch. I’m trying to really be there for everything I do and live in the moment. After all, there are no guarantees about how many moments we get in this life. If making lunch is the last thing I get to do in this life, I sure hope I savoured every minute of it and didn’t just mindlessly move through it so I could get on to the next thing …