Being present can be a present

Column by Andrea Doray
Posted 8/19/21

As most of us are in similar situations, I was stunned and saddened by the recent loss of a long-time friend to cancer. We met as children, and were actually engaged in kindergarten … though, for …

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Being present can be a present

Posted

As most of us are in similar situations, I was stunned and saddened by the recent loss of a long-time friend to cancer. We met as children, and were actually engaged in kindergarten … though, for some reason, this arrangement didn’t even last out the school year.

I do have black-and-white photos of us as five-year-olds in paper hats at a birthday party, in the inevitable classroom group pics, and in our yearbook photos that seem so staged and formal now.

We both eventually got engaged – to others – and, as lives do, ours crisscrossed through the years (decades, really) since we left our small high school in the San Luis Valley of southwestern Colorado. I’ve lost other classmates and schoolmates, too, and the news of such deaths is sorrowful.

Contemplating our next class reunion coming up in a couple of years fills me with both melancholy and anticipation. We are a group of friends made smaller by the vagaries of our fates, and we need to gather close to each other and cherish this time we’ll have together.

If this sounds cheesy, so be it. Events such as this loss of a friend have brought the concept of living in the moment into much clearer focus.

Of course, there are books and podcasts and courses and classes and and and that dictate how to “be present” in our lives, to live in the moment. That’s all well and good unless you are desperate to find a job or are waiting for a diagnosis or are suffering a loss of any kind.

Yes, I know … being present and living in the moment may help us endure these types of trials. And I try, I really do. So perhaps it’s this recent jolt – as well as the future prospect of a dwindling class reunion – that’s increased my resolve to determine how, and with whom, I want to spend my moments.

And just now – perhaps unsurprisingly – even as I am writing these words, a friend has sent a photo of a refrigerator magnet he likes. Among the magnet’s maxims, “appreciate your friends” particularly resonates with me.

Other truisms encourage me to be more present with the words “listen hard” and “practice wellness.” To help me live in the moment, I’m motivated by “play with abandon” and “laugh” and “do what you love.”

For many of us, though, doing what we love means balancing our time, talent and passions with our jobs, bills and other obligations. And for me, personally, this balance feels more urgent, more necessary and more demanding after the past year and a half.

Life, as lives do, can turn quickly, for good or for harm … with opportunities for either – or both – joy and regret. So, ultimately, I’ve decided what being present and living in the moment means for me … to “choose with no regret.”

Fittingly enough, the first words on the magnet are “live with intention,” followed by “walk to the edge.” And it’s the wisdom at the end that brings me to tears: “live as if this is all there is.”

Andrea Doray is a writer who leaves you with this thought: be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle. Contact Andrea at a.doray@andreadoray.com.

Andrea Doray, mindfulness

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