When I was in my early 20s working in nursing homes, I became very close to one of the residents who was in her 90s, Lorraine. She used to say to me often, “Enjoy every moment. It goes by in a blink”.
She also shared with me her own regret that she had lived so much of her life fixated on the future, the next thing, the big goal, the time when it would finally all come together. She urged me not to make the same mistake. Her stories always remind me of this short passage which I often read on my retreats these days…
‘First I was dying to finish high school and start college,
And then I was dying to finish college and start working,
And then I was dying to marry and have children,
And then I was dying for my children to grow old enough for school so I could return to work,
And then I was dying to retire,
And now I am dying…and suddenly I realise I forgot to live.’
Forgetting to live. It’s an easy mindset to get caught in. Always getting there, never fully here. It’s the idea that the future is where happiness lies. Not here. Not now. Not this. We have to get it all worked out first, achieve our potential, realise our hopes, finish our to-do lists, solve the problems, heal the wounds, ‘work it all out’. We need to find that special person, get the big dream, pay off the mortgage, fix our flaws, clean up our mess.
So we race and we rush and we fix and strive and we wait. We wait for the future. For a ‘better’ moment. The next thing. And in the waiting we overlook the fact that our life is happening, moment by moment….too often passing us by only half lived.
When we’re always striving to get somewhere and something else, we never fully arrive where we are. We forget to live.
Living Fully Through the Art of Non-Waiting
There is a more passionate, peaceful and joyful way to live and love and that is to give up the mindset of waiting to live.
Non-waiting instead, can be a way of being. A way of living each day and each moment as if it really mattered. It is an invitation to step fully into life. To not miss this day or this moment while waiting for the next one to arrive.
The energy of waiting can have us caught up in our heads hooked on the wishes we want to be filled, the plans we want to execute and the dreams we believe we need to come true.
Non-waiting doesn’t mean to give up our dreams but rather to bring our primary focus to how we meet the unfolding moment. We engage fully in the journey instead of waiting to arrive at our destination.
Dancing With the Flow
The present moment could be described as the flow of life. It is the space in which your entire life unfolds. Your true home. When we learn to stop leaning into the next experience – wanting and waiting for a particular outcome, we are finally free to know and experience life and this moment fully.
Non-waiting involves a relaxed, warm and welcoming awareness. Instead of clinging it lets things be. It doesn’t deny or push anything away. It allows the flow of life to come towards us and we respond to it moment by moment. We dance with the flow of life. In this way we develop a skillful and loving connection with reality.
Listen, human life is always a bit messy. There will always be another problem to solve, goal to reach, mess to clean up, wound to heal. If you get it all together something usually falls apart again in the next moment. If you get what you want, another desire will soon arise. It’s just the way of being human.
You may feel you cannot live fully till you get it all together, fix it or work it all out – but you can. It’s just a choice….not to wait. To just rise to the occasion of it all with the best of who you are. To live into the beautiful messy, mysterious, wild beauty of it all.
Non-waiting allows us to show up and participate fully in the unfolding of our precious lives while we have them to live.
When the sun sets this afternoon that will be one more day of your life gone. Don’t get stuck in waiting for something else or something more in the future. Don’t let it slip by only half lived. Don’t wait. Be present. This is it.