A little while ago as I was working away daily on clearing my home of extra clutter, I went through several “memory boxes” I had of old letters, journals and other mementos. It was a very interesting process because it had been so, so long since I last looked at these items. Most of them were from the 1990’s when I was an exchange student in Mexico or later on in college. A quick look at most of these items made me realize that by keeping so many of these although I didn’t look at them, symbolically I was living a lot in the past. I began to wonder- Are we afraid of the present moment?
I posted a photo of my memory boxes and journals on social media and so many people said that it would be so very difficult for them to get rid of those items. It made me ponder my own attachments to these letters, journals and documents. Yes, it is important to have a record of where you have been, and maybe my son or future generations would like to look at these items to get to know more of who I was or what I did in life and my relationships. On the other hand, by keeping so, so much of this old stuff, I felt a bit stuck in the past and part of me felt held back by even having so many boxes and bags of the past hanging around. It felt like a strange old security blanket telling me to hold on, but not to look at my present moment and live here.
Here’s what I did with those old memories that I feel at peace with here in my present moment. I can tell you that I had to take 2 passes at my old papers in order to be at peace with what I kept and what I recycled. I didn’t look at every single letter, but I did save sections of letters from people that still matter to me now in my present moment. The limit I put on myself was that I could keep 1 notebook full of old cards and letters and one box of memories of journals/mementos. The last go-round of looking through those things and making the notebook took over two hours. However, I really feel so very much lighter and able to live right now in this beautiful moment with the rain falling outside my window. Right now I am content with who I am and who I am becoming and some memories along the way that I did choose to keep brought me to this moment here today.
This process made me realize that I was really afraid of the present moment. I was hanging on to a large amount of the past in the physical form of these items. A lot of times physical and also mental clutter from the past can hold us back from living our true potential right now. Having fewer of these items means that i can begin to live in the now.
Beginning with paring down the past by de-cluttering my old papers and journals was a great foundation for me to build upon to start being less afraid of the present moment in other ways as well. I began to get curious about why I kept checking email and social media multiple times a day. It can falsely feel like we are living in the present moment by checking up on “what’s going on.” but really we are still not in the present when on our phones so much. Things people post have already happened and you won’t get an important e-mail every 5 minutes. I noticed that every day starting in the morning I would be continually distracted by checking way too many apps. I was shocked to see that I was spending sometimes more than 5 hours a day on my phone!
Determined to get that time back and be more present with myself, my family, my friends and activities that matter to me, I experimented beginning with last weekend. I decided I would spend very little time on my phone, especially in the mornings. Mornings are my creative time, a time when my brain works best on things like writing and creating. I made sure to start my day out with meditation, tea and breakfast instead of the usual round-robin of checking email and social media. It felt so relaxing. It reminded me of the few letters that I did keep. I remember a time that we couldn’t instantly share what was going on in our lives every single second. We would save up our news and write it into letters for those living far away. We took extra care and time with those letters. We could live our lives in the present moment more, and just take a bit of time to write letters when we wanted to communicate with someone out of town.
My weekend experiment worked very well. I only checked email a couple of times and didn’t check social media at all. I was amazed at how much time I had to read, study my Japanese, do a bit of writing in my notebook and just relax a bit with my family. I really did reclaim those several hours a day and my brain didn’t feel as scrambled as it did when I was on my phone so much. It felt like real rest, real connection to the present moment and real connection to myself and others.
My question to you is: Are you afraid of the present moment? Can you get curious about what is going on there? How can you change your connection with the present moment and be there more each day? Leave a comment below or email me at:
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