Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Live Each Day As If It Is Your First

Most of us have heard the expression, Live each day as if it is your last. Choosing to live your day with this in mind helps you recognize what it truly important in your life.

With this perspective, it is easier to remember to pause in the middle of some activity to acknowledge my husband and give him a kiss. It is easier to stop in the middle of my sentence to laugh at something funny happening around me, without attachment to what I felt was so significant about what I was saying.

However, I have noticed that living from this perspective also tends to motivate me to abandon anything that might be considered mundane, such as cleaning the house, paying the bills or going grocery shopping.

I do believe there is great wisdom in recognizing what is truly important each and every day. Indeed, there are days where it is far more important to listen to someone who is suffering or celebrate with someone in his or her joy than it is to clean the house. Then there are other days when giving some loving attention to my home is important. Knowing from moment to moment what is most important to attend to and doing so in love is a powerful way to live.

And so is living each day as if it is your first. Some call this beginners mind. This is when you recognize that each moment is a moment to begin again. Each moment offers the mystery of life to be discovered and explored.

For some time I kept a box of colored markers on my desk to remind me that everything that has been created can be recreated. Children know that they can create new worlds over and over with their colored pens and crayons, and so these child-like tools help me remember that everything I need to recreate my life is within my grasp.

Even if I have failed at something a dozen times, one moment of clear, pure and loving consciousness changes everything. When I am facing a task with a history of perceived failures, I challenge myself to sink into the moment and become present.

I remind myself about how enthusiastic children are in approaching life. Whatever they do, they do with the fullness of their little beings. In a restaurant the other day, I watched as two little kids played peek-a-boo with each other by pulling their shirts up over their heads. They were oblivious to the world around them, unaware of anything that had happened earlier in that day or anything that might be happening soon.

Later, my husband and I laughed as a little guy did a crazy little step as he walked down the street. He was completely present to the joy of the moment he was creating with his own unique way of walking. He wasn’t even aware that we were chuckling, caught up in his moment of abandonment.

Children are powerful teachers. They know how to be present to the moment. They will do something over and over again, until they have mastered it, and not necessarily because they feel they have to do it. Frequently, they seem to be entirely entertained as they practice.

Think about a child sliding down a snowy hill. The first time they might not get much momentum going down the hill because they are scared. The second time they slip off the edge of their sled, having gotten only half-way down. The next time they get to the bottom of the hill quite competently. But the fourth time they decide they want to go down with their buddy, and the two of them fall off before they get very far.

Each time, they are squealing with delight. They aren’t failing at anything. They are having a great time learning all the nuances of sliding down a snowy hill.

I expect I’ll continue in the practice of living as if this is my last day, and while I’m discovering what is truly important about each day, I’ll also be living each day as if it is my first—with all the enthusiasm of child experiencing each moment for the very first time.

Personally, this is one of the qualities I love about SpiritQuest, New Dream's week with Mother Earth. We seem to have a way of living as if each moment is our first: And if we forget, the kids attending help us remember!