I have always wanted to be one of those carefree, spontaneous people who lives in the moment. The kind of person who adroitly bounds from one adventure to the next. Who is thrilled with change, delighted with surprises, focused solely on the here and now.
That will never be me.
I have to fight for the here and now.
I have to wrestle with myself to stay grounded in the present.
Because introverts have this whole other world inside their heads. We wander up there frequently without anyone noticing and spend hours getting lost in our swirling thoughts and alluring dreams.
In my head I have this dream of myself in the future.
I’m sitting on a wooden swing beneath a grand oak tree in my garden. Bluebells and daffodils brim over in my planter boxes. The grass has been freshly mowed and the clippings lay in messy clumps all over the lawn.
We live in this perfect, old villa with rocking chairs on the front porch and hanging baskets swinging from the awning. Our mailbox has a blue roof and our fence is white and picket.
In summer I’m always out in the garden, watering can in hand, tending to my plants.
In autumn I sit on the porch sipping apple cinnamon-spiced tea and watching the leaves pile up in the front yard.
I can get lost in this daydream and lose all sense of time.
See, I have a heart that is spurred on by expectation. It beats a rhythm of longing. Constantly demanding more, never satisfied with what it has.
I am forever at war with myself.
I must fight for this moment. This one right here. Sitting at my kitchen table in my dressing gown, sipping coffee. I must force myself to meander back down outside of my head and become absorbed fully in appreciating the present.
And I’m not the only one.
Our modern lives are so cluttered with distractions.
Billboards on every corner, notifications from every app, adverts after every second song. Multitasking has become our second nature, we don’t know how to do just the one thing anymore.
While eating our breakfast, we are scrolling through our emails. While walking we are listening to podcasts. While having conversations we are having entirely different ones on our phones.
But I miss the eye contact. The face to face conversations. The careful, handwritten letters slipped into my mailbox.
Everything these days is so instant and hurried. I hardly ever feel seen or understood, nobody has the time.
Even when we are in one place, we wish we were in another. We watch the sunset through the lens of our cameras, we live our lives to upload on our Instastories, we’ve made a sport out of collecting memories and flashing them around for everyone else to see.
It feels so fake, so inauthentic, so exhausting to maintain.
Putting my phone down feels like a breath of fresh air. Now I hardly post on social media, it feels like I’m coming home, back to the real me. Without the pressure of a billion eyes watching me, I am free to actually live.
What I need, what we all need really, is a new pace. A slower, more deliberate way of living. An awareness of the buzz, the hustle, the impatience. A return to simpler times which were perhaps not so foolish after all.
It saddens me to think that some of the old, slower ways of doing things will soon be lost due to our impatience.
I hope my kids get to experience the joy of opening up their mailbox and finding a package waiting for them.
I hope they get the chance to trawl around a hundred different shops looking for the perfect gift rather than sitting at home filling up their online shopping cart.
I hope they will know the feeling of the worn-out pages of a much-loved paperback.
I hope they will take delight in digging up carrots from their own garden rather than reaching for plastic wrapped, pre-washed vegetables in the supermarket.
There is something to be said for the ease and convenience of our everyday lives, but still I hope that my children will make time for a little inconvenience.
Because I have found that the best conversations happen when we’ve both left our phones in our purses. The most pleasure I’ve taken from a kind note was one written out by hand and delivered to me personally. The best lemon muffin recipe I have ever found was shared with me by a friend of a friend.
Being present is recognizing that the here and now moments are what matter the most.
It’s fighting the urge to move on to the next thing while you are still doing the first. It’s saying grace before a meal, giving thanks for the one who prepared it. It’s noticing the colours of the leaves as you are walking to work. It’s falling asleep to the gentle hum of crickets outside your bedroom window.
Being present is choosing to let go of the past and refusing to be afraid of the future.
So here’s to slowing down, finding moments of solitude in a distraction-filled world and doing our very best to enjoy the here and now.
There is not a whole lot in our lives that we have control over but this one thing is ours to protect. We have the choice every day to fall in love with life.