Aaron and I take an almost-annual spring trip to Paradise Village, a stunning resort on a perfect strip of beach that cradles the Banderas Bay in Nuevo Vallarta, Nayarit, Mexico. We love it there, and we breathe in every moment a little more deeply knowing that a week sometimes passes quickly. On my last night to sip tonic water and lime underneath a beach-side palapa at dusk, I worried about how to spend our dwindling hours in Mexico, concerned I’d miss something if I didn’t carefully construct a plan, the right plan, and carry it out. Eventually, the urge to control the moment dissipated, and I was able to sit right where I was, and drink in the sounds and sensations of the rhythmic ocean waves.
As long as I can remember, this temporary fear of letting go, of surrendering one happy moment without having fingers or toes planted firmly in the next, has felt like a little eternity, a small death. What if I miss something? It’s as if the threat of change causes me to feel something like grief over un-experienced joy, or a life that isn’t fully realized.
This odd awareness of the life and death that is embedded in every moment has inspired an albeit slightly paranoid tenacity for staying engaged with those I love at any and all cost. Whether this defines a co-dependent implosion, or a hero’s journey, I am constantly aware that when it comes to people I love, “I don’t wanna miss a thing.” The last one to turn out the lights, turn off the TV, or put away the Red Vines, my tight grasp on moments that feel good to me, along with an unquenchable desire for connection, can paradoxically feed into a there’s-never-enough perspective, leaving me discontent in the midst of abundance.
At 10, yes, I enjoyed that piece of candy, but a whole candy bar would be better. Better yet, 5 candy bars. At 20, yes, I know I’m loved, but it’s never enough. At 30, my husband is good to me, but it would be better if he would be more (insert current complaint). At 40, a glass of wine is nice, but more is always, always better.
And in my 50s? Thankfully, this decade has, through trial and failure, morphed into one of acceptance and surrender, about settling into the experience of all that resides in this present moment.
What if I knew today that I would be gone tomorrow? Would I waste even one second wishing, wondering, or looking in the rear-view mirror? Would I spend those minutes worrying about whether people visit my blog, or would I still sit lazily on the couch, unkindly focused on my embarrassing sausage-shaped toes?
What if there isn’t any more that can be accessed in this moment by wishing and worrying?
Well, then, there would be only this moment, lived more deeply.
For me, mining for more looks like slowing down and focusing on what’s right in front of me.
Today, I went on my morning walk, and I began as I always do, running a virtual gauntlet of mental gymnastics. Thankfully, I have begun to notice much more quickly when my mind is dragging me around, the tail wagging the dog.
I instinctively took a deep breath, whispered internally, “Lets think about all of that later,” and I indulged in a sensory inventory, taking in the morning moon while she stubbornly held her place in a sunlit sky. I felt a brisk breeze on my face in tandem with the comforting warmth of the sun on my back, and I purposefully I widened my gaze, aware of all that I could pull into my peripheral vision.
And that’s when I thought to myself, sometimes, it’s almost too much to contain.