Planning for retirement is wonderful advice. It is responsible and it is something that anyone in the workforce for a certain number of years has heard, thought about, met with advisers or signed up for through a company plan. It’s wonderful to be in the position to consider what one would do to save for retirement (which I feel should be called graduation rather than to retire; which means to croak!). It’s admirable. I intend to be there as well.
And yet, when I was thinking about this while I was hiking this weekend, I wondered if the message of save for tomorrow has been translated by our brains as be in the future and not in the present. There is a pervasive undertone of what is to come is where the focus should be and THEN we can be happy and relaxed.You’ve heard the expression we can sleep when we are dead? It’s not true. Nap now.
I’m not suggesting we forgo fiscal responsibility to live without a plan and to not be accountable. Quite the opposite, I believe that the more present we are the more we line up with what is next. However, the balance is a challenging one.
It’s an interesting prospect this being human. We have to plan or some trips to the loo could be frustrating because we didn’t have the foresight to buy toilet paper. We need to schedule those dentist appointments because we can’t all just show up when it works for us to get our pearly whites polished. We have to consider that we may want to buy a house, go on vacation or yes, eventually graduate to free space, so we spend our earnings wisely. Don’t we also have to consider that it’s a sad situation to only be focused on what is to come without enjoying where we are?
Investing in our future could be translated into invest in your now in order to lay out your future. When was the last time you paused? I don’t mean you stopped scrolling or you sat long enough to drive from one location to another. I mean that you paused and took in the silence.
I was on a hike this weekend with a friend and all of a sudden he paused because he noticed the birds weren’t singing, the bugs weren’t making noise and everything was quiet. Now, if you are a hiker you know that means there is something BIG and potentially hungry nearby and you may just be on the menu. Or there is a tornado about to happen but the weather was wonderful so I went with something with teeth. I observed our reactions with awe. I asked “should we go back?” “Should we just get moving?” “Should I get my pepper spray out?” He looked at me with what can only be described as a “really? Are you serious right now?” Then he said; “no, we are just going to walk the same as we have been and do you really have pepper spray?” Yes, yes I do.
The hysterical part of all of this is that I am the one who is always saying “can’t we just have some quiet? No music, talking or noise other than what nature makes? Can’t we be in the moment and take it all in?” Yet, when nature provided the very practice of being in the moment, I wanted to hightail it out of there and come up with a plan to survive whatever my subconscious just created as a threat. Which, let’s be honest, it was probably just a cute little black bear coming to dine on the amazing blackberry bushes we had just sampled from.
Why, if with all my practice was my autopilot response to create a plan? To drag it out of there. To make the situation different? Well, because that adorable fear response kicked off the training in my reticular activating system that I had to PLAN to save my butt. It just wasn’t true though. So my autoresponder was kicking out false information due to some previous programming.
Now, I’m not saying that when it happens again, and it will, because I am in the woods a lot, that I won’t first have a moment of “jiminy crickets!” (I’m working on not swearing. It’s a process.) but I am intending to allow myself to calm and be with the quiet. To observe like the birds, bugs and whatever was creating the stillness. To take in the moment of awe and embrace the stillness. I crave stillness and there it was being presented to me.
Maybe there wasn’t a creature there anyway. Maybe it was a gift being given and I tossed it away with my reactionary self. I won’t do that again. Why? Because planning to live is not living. Planning all the processes out and the what ifs and the “this could happen” moments isn’t being present. It’s living in a time not yet here because of experiences of the past.
So, in a way I am planning I suppose. I’m planning to not plan. This process may need some practice. Being still in all moments is a challenge and may not be applicable but it is a darn good goal to have and I am grateful to whatever put the thought in my head after my heart dropped back out of my throat!
Are you present in any moment in your day? Are you completely aware of all that is going on in your energy field, your field of awareness and your proprioception with the world? Ever? You matter and your matter matters. If you are never still, what might you be missing?
P.S. The picture above is when I had the realization that I had been given a moment of stillness and I tossed it away so I took the picture to capture the moment. After the picture, I paused and took in my surroundings. Walk the walk. Walk the talk. It’s important.