Hope and the Present Moment

Yesterday I felt hopeless. Overwhelmed.  

For several weeks my household has been flailing about in a whirlwind of disarray: we have been living in a ‘dangerous work zone’ both literally and figuratively as we juggle home remodeling with unplanned medical issues.  As Mom, the bulk of daily duties and morale uplifting have fallen on my shoulders.  

And then the pandemic pandemonium hit our small Midwestern town. Schools closed and people have bunkered down and apparently my 8 remaining rolls of toilet paper are a hot commodity. 

My kids are small – they don’t understand it, nor do I really want them to.  I don’t know if I understand it either.

I’m tired.

I’m stretched to the max.

I’m full of anxiety.

In this time of global stress we are being whipped up into a panic:
FEAR! They tell us.
HIDE! From what may come.
PREPARE! For the unknown.

Yet HOPE. Soothe yourselves with HOPE, we are taught. Hold on like a lifeline to this time-travelling view of good things waiting in the future.  Like anxiety in reverse: close your eyes to the struggles of the present moment and dream about what may or may not come.

But we don’t have to play those games.

We can shift our consciousness to an appreciation of the small beauties of NOW.  

Ha. But the NOW is something I’ve always struggled to appreciate. 

In his book Peace Is Every Step, Thich Nhat Hanh wrote that Hope for the future is a something that Westerners cling to, thereby dulling our present experience. “Hope is important,” he writes, “because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. But that is the most that hope can do for us – to make some hardship lighter. Hope becomes kind of an obstacle. If you can refrain from hoping, you can bring yourself entirely into the present moment and discover the joy that is already here.

Refrain from Hoping?!?! 

Sure, if you’re a Buddhist monk.

But I, however, am feeling a bit of anxiety around this whole situation.

I am having difficulty accepting the current reality of cancellations and closings and social distancing. I am a person who thrives on my interactions with others. The prospect of several weeks in relative isolation with my small children is frightening to me. What are we supposed to DO for the next how-ever-many days until this pandemic panic passes through?  How I am not going to lose my mind!?

I just want to sit back on the comfy cushion of Hope and wait for things to be better.

In all his infuriating wisdom, Thich Nhat Hanh then reminds us of the obvious: “Enlightenment, peace, and joy will not be granted by someone else. The well is within us, and if we dig deeply in the present moment, the water will spring forth.

So I am the one in charge of whether I will experience joy or struggle in each day I spend with my family during this odd time of public unease…

Ok. Fair enough. I’m gonna try to choose joy.

To do this I’ve got to find strength and stay grounded. I know I am the rock to which my children and my husband tether their whimsical vessels.  If my soul is not firmly planted in the earth, everyone else can get twisted up by the storms.  

So I breathe. I move. I write.  I hug some trees and watch the birds.  Sometimes my children play together without fighting (for 5 minutes) and I hold onto that. I vent to my friends about the weird people at Walmart. I spend a few hours at my local yoga studio and coffee shop because they are still open and eager for customers.  

I listen to rain fall onto the spring flowers that have already stretched up out of the earth; because regardless of what us crazy humans are going through, nature is going to do what it always does in March: Grow and Bloom.

I find the small beauties of NOW.

And I step away and cry when I need to.  Because sometimes you just need to.

And then I pull all my energy back to my place of personal power and step into the wondrous fray of this present moment.

©Vixen Lea 2020

One thought on “Hope and the Present Moment

  1. dear one,
    I don’t think you could possibly know what a talented writer you are. Please keep it up! It may save us all!!!
    This piece captures so much of what I’m feeling in this troubled time.

    Hugs,
    Cate

    Liked by 1 person

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