Life's Lessons

How to Embrace the Present Moment, Even When it Sucks.

posted by Katherine Wintsch May 7, 2016 11 Comments

Last week I went on a field trip to the local botanical gardens with my son Alex and his class. In the rain.

I didn’t tell him I had volunteered to be a chaperone until the night before the field trip, just in case something came up at work and I couldn’t make it. I’m sneaky like that.

He was so excited when I told him. He lit up like it was Christmas morning. I was not nearly as excited when I woke up the next day and it was pouring down rain.

“Surely we’re not still doing this thing and I can go to work and answer my emails,” I thought.

No. Such. Luck.

A note from the teacher indicated that we were, in fact, still going to the gardens, in the rain, as planned. From 8:30 am to 1:30 pm.

Heaven help me.

I’m pretty sure this sign of devotion deserved two punches on the good mom card.

12986936_10154966157804848_4161218153431193250_nFor the first hour of the field trip, I found myself quietly mumbling very un-motherly things, such as . . .

This is ridiculous. Why in the hell? I should have passed. Why couldn’t it be sunny and 80 degrees like yesterday? I’m so damn cold. Where are all the dads at? I look like a drowned rat.

You know. What every mother-of-the-year says on a field trip with her youngest child.

Or not.

I don’t know what other people say, but I was saying some pretty bad things.

Until I stopped.

One hour in, I had a moment of Zen and decided to stop arguing with reality.

One of my favorite yoga teachers says that the definition of human suffering is resisting “what is.”

Suffering and stress come from being in a particular situation and wishing you were in a different one.

I found myself walking around the botanical gardens in the rain with my son wishing that I could fast forward the next four hours of my life so I could be sitting at my desk answering work emails.

That’s no way to live.

When we live for the future, when we can’t wait for the next thing to get here, we treat the present moment like a stepping stone and all the joy is lost.

The present moment is our only portal to inner peace, yet so often we wish it away.

Once I had my moment of Zen, I decided to live in the present moment. I decided to actually live my old mantra of “right here, right now.”

And it worked.

13010855_10154966157914848_8673062747197207245_nHaving a bad attitude was not going to make it stop raining. Wishing I was at work was not going to get me there any faster.

The universe doesn’t work that way.

I was on a field trip in the rain and I might as well make the most of it.

Damnit.

After my epiphany, I paused at every sign and learned about condensation, transformation and evaporation. I found it tragic how much of this information was news to me, but that’s a blog post for another day.

I became so engrossed in learning about the DNA of pine trees that a mother of one of the kids tapped me on the shoulder and said, “You do know it’s raining, right?”

Shit. I hadn’t noticed.

Wishing away what we have in front of us is no way to live.

Here’s what I learned from my field trip to the rain forest: If you’re in a crappy job, either walk away or be happy with it. If you’re in a crappy marriage, either get out of it or stay in it and work on it, but don’t wish you were in a different one. And if you’re on a field trip with 18 six-year-olds and it’s raining, either be there and be happy, or say something came up at work and run away as fast as you can.

But don’t live your life in the in-between.

Don’t live in one situation and wish you were in another. Embrace what’s in front of you or change it.

Period.

After all, you can only truly live your life when you’re not arguing with it.

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11 Comments

Caroline Harding May 9, 2016 at 10:22 am

Really great, and so timely!

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Katherine Wintsch May 9, 2016 at 1:25 pm

Thanks Caroline! Glad you enjoyed it! It’s hard to do regularly but practicing as often as possible helps!

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Julia May 9, 2016 at 1:05 pm

A perfect articulation of something I often forget to remember 🙂 Living in the present is so hard when we are constantly rewarded for doing the opposite in our work – anticipating problems and always thinking ahead!

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Katherine Wintsch May 9, 2016 at 1:27 pm

Wow.What a great point! I hadn’t thought about that Julia. You’re exactly right…our careers reward getting out in front and solving problems before they arise. Maybe that’s why I work myself into knots sometimes! Thanks for pointing that out. Powerful.

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Carolyn Hite May 9, 2016 at 5:34 pm

I went on April 29 with Janie’s kindergarten class. It was way colder there than at my Kenbridge home 75 miles away, and it was raining. I agree, some parts were interesting, and the Butterfly Complex was nice and warm…”Sought the silver lining in the day”, and the lunch menu was nice. Loved this blog B/C I’d been there!

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Katherine Wintsch May 12, 2016 at 1:46 am

Ha. Love it. Yes, the butterfly complex was a safe haven! You’re always seeking the silver lining.

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Earl Cox May 10, 2016 at 3:13 am

Love this! You are so wise Katherine. Living in the now is really the only place we can live. But I spend a lot of time second guessing the past. And sometimes I get resentfull about things that happened. But I also spend a lot of time living in”the wreckage of my future.” And can’t do a damn thing about it.

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Katherine Wintsch May 12, 2016 at 1:44 am

Amen, my friend. You’re the one who turned me on to The Power of Now and it changed my life. It’s so hard to stay out of our future – especially when our careers reward us for looking ahead and solving problems (stealing that from Julia’s insight!). So true.

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Cheryl June 3, 2016 at 1:02 pm

Well written and so very relatable…the rain would’ve totally made the day suck (hair frizz!!). Thankfully you could prepare with rain boots and rain jacket. The epiphany to embrace the moment was the icing on cake. You rocked it! Great analogy for your readers to remember and apply throughout life. Thanks!

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Tarah November 7, 2016 at 9:21 pm

I love the way you write! I really can relate. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

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Katherine Wintsch November 10, 2016 at 7:14 pm

Thank you for reading! I really appreciate it.

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