Many people embrace the concept of “living in the moment”, some people do their best to adopt it, but very few people actually live it. It seems that we get too bogged down with daily to-do lists and future plans to truly appreciate the beauty in each day.
It is so easy to suggest that someone “appreciate the simple things”, but it is much harder to offer any concrete way to learn how to do that. Perhaps the key lies in awareness. James Thurber wrote “Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness.” Awareness includes all that surrounds us: it may be beautiful (a colorful wildflower), silly (two friends in fits of laughter) or serious (a cherished relationship).
The below post was written by a patient with metastatic breast cancer, and it was too beautiful not to share with you. She wrote it in response to a question about what a cancer diagnosis can teach the patient. She explains so eloquently what it means to value the routine occurrences that fill our daily lives and she describes exactly what it feels like to be fully aware of all that surrounds you.
(shared here with author’s permission)
“I have had a couple of personal, unforgettable moments since I have been living with mets (metastatic cancer). One day, I went to the local grocery store to pick up something for dinner. As I got out of my car, I noticed all the folks walking in the parking lot — some towards the stores, some away from the stores. On previous occasions in groups of people unknown to me, I had sometimes felt “different” from them knowing I had a terminal disease. But at this moment, I looked at these people and felt an overwhelming love and awareness flow from me for them. I felt how wonderful it was that these folks were just going about their everyday lives and that I was a part of it. I felt they were all very dear to me. I also felt that I knew that some of them were very troubled and unsure in their lives and that I was not really different from them, just that our concerns and fears were different, but somehow the same. I felt warm and embracing towards these strangers. It was a most beautiful, unexpected moment for me.
Would it have happened without the cancer diagnosis. I don’t really know, but I doubt that it would have. I made changes in my life as a result of the diagnosis — I retired early, let myself ponder more and accomplish less. I changed my life in many significant and subtle ways. We all know that it is not easy to live with this diagnosis, the treatments, the periods of illness and pain, the wondering how long we will live and what kind of death we will have. But for me, there are moments when looking death in the face has made certain moments of life a little bit sweeter.”
Take a moment to soak up her words, and then give yourself the freedom to appreciate the moments that you always viewed as mundane. You will find they are far from ordinary and you will discover that everyone is facing his/her own challenge. Our capacity to cope makes us pretty remarkable creatures, and if we can learn to focus on the present, we can better understand the gift that life is.