Living in the Moment

I was misunderstood and so, inadequately nurtured as a child, my parents divorced, I was abused by boyfriends, I abused alcohol, I didn’t get through college, I ignored my passion for creating art, I had abortions, I was raped, I was robbed, I lost my father and brother, I had a bad marriage, I had a difficult divorce, I had a troubled daughter, my family’s memory in the school they resurrected has been virtually obliterated, the house my great grand parents built burned to the ground, I was undervalued as an employee, I have been socially slighted, I have been overweight, I have lived in financial distress. I had been depressed most of my life. The memories of my children are faint. My husband and I were living parallel lives.

Closing in on my 50th birthday it suddenly struck me that keeping my past alive and constantly worrying about the future had been robbing me and those I love. It was time to let go and try something different.

I began to notice how many times in a given day negative thoughts and experiences bombard me. I then noticed how different everything was when I CHOSE to respond contrary to what had been my HABIT. Instead of being sucked in to the negativity I found myself noting how many holds there were to move away from it.

I couldn’t listen to the news from traditional media outlets. I channel flipped and chanced on stories of hope and stories with meaning that had global implications. Before I would have stayed put and worried, been enraged and disgusted by the time wasted on celebrity. I would come away feeling hopeless, powerless:victimized. Now I was thinking about what I could do.

I couldn’t listen to my mother complaining and worrying about everything. As soon as I saw where her conversation was going I steered her to the positive aspects of her subject. Before I would have commiserated with her and come away feeling vaguely diminished. Now I was feeling good as the conversations contained hope and laughter.

I couldn’t quietly listen in a line stalled by a rude and loudly complaining customer. Before I would feel my blood boil by this outrageous person and come away with more proof that society is going to hell. Now I found myself wondering why this person was upset and sometimes I was able to help diffuse the situation.

I became aware of how many times my 14 year old son tried to hug me and I pushed him away. Before I was either “busy” or thinking he was too old to be wanting this attention. Now I made myself hug him back and felt his body relax. In seconds my neck loosened, my shoulders relaxed and I was full of love for this boy who would leave with a smile.

I heard the birds at the feeder when it was low. Before I would be annoyed with myself for not having paid attention, irritated I would have to stop what I was doing to fill it. Now I was cheered that they were alerting me and stopped to watch as word was spread and the finches flocked in their various colors.

I noticed how blue the sky was even though the temperature was unbearable. Before I would have been so busy with the discomfort of my body the sky did not exist. Now I forgot about my discomfort.

I saw delicate flowers in the weeds. Before I would have been done in by the hard work involved in weeding and being angry I was the appointed “gardener”. Now I was wondering how to incorporate some of these flowers in my plan, sometimes pressing them for an art project. Weeding became effortless with my mind thus occupied.

I started walking and kept it up for almost two years. I wouldn’t have been able to do that before. Now I treasured the time as the place where I could be quiet and practice being in the now. I am who I am today because of what has gone before. I like myself. The past two years of deliberately refusing the negativity of hauling old baggage with the help of daily hooks has brought me a peace that has allowed me to see opportunities I couldn’t have seen before. Jobs drop in my lap when I need them. I call the right friend when I need a boost. My husband and I have real conversations. My daughter is married. My son is happy. People smile at me in town. I’ve stopped worrying about my weight and it is disappearing. I am sleeping again. I am not afraid to die and so I am able to enjoy every day as it comes. I feel better than I ever did during the 20 years I was in therapy and intermittently on Prozac.

I haven’t forgotten my past. There are things within it that have value and so it no longer has destructive power. I have forgiven those who have harmed me as every experience has enriched me in some way. Living in the present requires paying attention and having faith that such attention will take care of the tomorrow. It is not easy but it is a labor that satisfies the devil of the Puritan who lives within me in a much gentler way.

Living in the Moment

beckwith

Washington, United States

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Artist's Description

Cynical devil’s advocate drowning in depression finds an escape route.

Artwork Comments

  • kayla34
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