Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Living in the Moment

Living in the moment. I’m almost two years into this moment, and as I think of one of the things I am most ashamed of, it’s this: I’ve yet to master just living in the moment. It feels like for months now, I have been living in Ecuador with my eyes set on my future.

I heard a saying: if you wait for the future, it comes. If you don’t wait, it comes just the same. And so what is this obsession with my future that I can’t put on hold? I’m in one of those moments I truly should be alive and present to, and I can’t will myself to do it. When I’m not at school, not around the kids, my thoughts drift to the future, my legs wander to an internet café. First it was for job searches. Now with that out of the way, apartment searches and whatever else can shamelessly occupy my mind.

And the only thing that somewhat comforts and consoles is knowing I am not alone. Tension has risen amongst the house as uncertainty looms over us all. Exasperated stories that begin along the lines of “when this ends, I don’t know what happens next” are the norm. Some have jobs or school to return to, some know what city they will call home, and yet, all of us realize at some inherent level- we can only prepare so much for life post-Ecuador.

My obsession with the future persists as a means of external validation. On one hand, an obsession with the future allows us the security of knowing that we are always upward bound. Who wants to believe they have reached the peak and have nothing further to look forward to? Focusing on the future is a way of reassuring ourselves, comforting ourselves, that the best is always yet to come. But how much do we void ourselves of the pure joy the current moment is ready to offer by doing that?

Dare I say that after two years of this game, I have yet to master what I have always known it to be about? Just be, the rock on my desk says, and at times, I have done anything but that.

People back home will invariably ask the question that frustrates me most: “how was it?” They ask about your life experience, your year, as though it is nothing more than a meal or movie. The answer is so much more complicated and long winded then what the seeker truly wants to hear. But maybe despite it all, I will have an answer to give them, one that satisfies me with its depth and satisfies them with its brevity. How was it? Love and failure, that’s how it was.

It was two years: it was the best year of my life and the worst year of my life and it spanned across three countries. It was learning how to love and be loved, and it was the constant failure to do that and so much more as much as I would have liked. It was watching the poor stumble and seeing my own stumbles in theirs.

What did I learn? To see the humanity in every statistic, to see my own reflection, the best and the worst that is within me, in those who remain unseen. The struggling single mother, the ten year old shoeshine boy, the alcoholic father, the fifteen year old aspiring female doctor: all my students, and all my teachers. It was here a people with nothing more than their love and their failures taught me about how to rebound from my own failures, and how to truly utilize my love. And while I couldn’t always live in this moment, it is my hope that for the many moments ahead in my life, it is these moments that will shape me and ground me in that which I have always known it to be about: failure, and love in spite of it all.

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