Sunday, August 6, 2017

Time Flies: Staying Present

Today I was privileged to hear my oldest grandson Binyamin layn his Bar Mitzvah parsha from last summer. As it happens, my son Simmy had layned the same parsha for his Bar Mitzvah, 18 years ago.  Listening to Binyamin today, thinking about him and Simmy, made me think about the passage of time.

Adults often remark that time flies.  "It seems like yesterday"; "It's been how long? I can't believe it!".  This is especially true of teachers in June:  "This year went by so fast!".  Honestly, I don't feel that way at all.  I feel like I've been on this planet a long time.  I often wake up in the morning and think, "Really?  I get another day?".  But I do feel like large chunks of my life are missing, because I simply don't remember.  I remember incidents from my childhood, or from my children's childhoods, but much is lost to me.  I'm wondering if time just seems to pass quickly because many of our experiences get sucked into oblivion.

 I believe my faulty memory is due in large part to my failure to stay in the present moment.   John Lennon sings:  "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans".   It is so difficult to quiet my scattered thoughts and just be fully present to where I am and what I'm doing at any given moment.  My yoga instructor calls that "monkey brain"; my mind jumping from one random thought to another, like a monkey from branch to branch. 

We've all been advised,  "Enjoy your children while they're young; they grow up before you know it."  But our monkey brain often robs us of that enjoyment because we're too busy thinking of our endless to-do lists, or ruminating over some past hurt, or tensing up about some future event.  Or maybe we're checking emails, texts, posts; mindlessly jumping around our devices.

We can learn from children to live more in the present. Young children don't have an acute sense of time.  Days are measured by routines:  meal time, bath time, bed time.  So they are always in the present, always learning, reacting, and experiencing life in real time.  (The exception is when/if they're hooked up to screens, which rob them of real time.)  

Children spend their time playing.  Play is so important to them that most children are happy to play with whomever is available at the time.  They may fight over toys or their roles in play, but chances are they'll be best of friends again shortly. They don't waste time holding grudges.  Have you ever noticed how much quicker a young body heals from physical injuries than an older one?  The same is true of young egos.  Whatever is happening at the moment takes precedence over any insult, whether past or anticipated.  I read a study once that found that children laugh many, many more times a day than adults do.  No wonder.

At this stage of my life, it feels like my days are more precious.  I'm trying to tame the monkey, put away the phone when I'm with my loved ones, bring more play into my life and live every moment to its fullest.

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