Last Friday I took the afternoon off. I walked on the Heath and did my thing of imagining what it would be like to be a tree (I fancied being one of the skinny, elegant birch trees; the supermodels of the tree world). I smiled at dogs and humans.
I came home around 3pm and the house was empty so I made myself a late lunch, poured a glass of wine (very decadent, very Power of Now, I told myself. Any excuse…) and sat in silence.
A late afternoon light was coming through the windows and the quiet of the house had a gentle hum to it. There was a slight vibration from the tumble dryer finishing its cycle upstairs. I could almost sense the electricity and water pipes doing their thing.
I took a breath.
I looked at how pretty my food was on my plate and put a piece of broccoli in my mouth. It burst with life in my mouth. How had I not noticed how bursty-with-life broccoli is before? I mean, I’ve always liked broccoli but this tasted like magic broccoli.
The first sip of red wine caused a warm rush to the head.
I looked out the window again. There was a squirrel sitting on the grass in the garden. I thought of how they drive my friend Rebecca mad – always digging up things and chewing – but he or she looked so beautiful sitting there with his/her luxurious tail. How could you be angry at that?
I took another breath.
I looked at the wood of the table and stared at the grain. It was so pretty. A caramel colour. I looked at the deep orange tulips in a vase and thought they looked like pretty ladies standing upright in their green vase.
In that moment, I could see the beauty of everything. The aliveness of everything. It was so overwhelming tears pricked my eyes.
It’s like I woke up from a dream and realised that actually, everything is beautiful. What on earth have I been making it so hard for? It’s all here. Everything I need is here.
I felt a deep love for everything and everyone in my life. I thought about my mum and felt such a love for her I could have burst. I thought of my sisters and my friends and Rebecca and her daughters, who have welcomed me into their home. I thought about people I hadn’t thought of for years, even people who had hurt me or annoyed me; I could see that they all had their purpose, they were all part of the picture. I hoped they felt the same way about me.
This state of bliss lasted a couple of hours. It was lovely. It was enough.
Since then my mind has been kicking in again. Last night it was going off on the old ‘You’re messing up your life, you’re broke and lazy and fat,’ spiral… but then I told myself that ‘That’s just your brain doing the thing it always does…’
Already, in the space of a month, that voice is there much less than it used to be. It sneaks in regularly, but it’s quieter and it doesn’t quite take hold the way it did. I don’t believe it so much. I tell myself that this voice is my ego, my mind creating problems that usually don’t exist.
Letting go of that voice feels strange but I do feel like I’m doing it. Slowly. Tentatively.
Which brings me back to this whole blog – why am I doing it? Really, what am I striving for?
Eckhart Tolle would say that I have everything I need right now – and yet I still want more. I want to turn this blog into a good book that sells lots, I want to get over my crazy overdrafts and to buy nice clothes, I want, some day to afford to buy a flat, I want to be skinner…
But every time I think about those aims and goals, they stress me out. The wanting stresses me out. I start to panic and tell myself to try harder, do more, make things happen. I start to beat myself up for what I haven’t done right up until now. The voices in my head start to shout.
All of this is the opposite of being in the NOW.
Eckhart Tolle (and indeed lovely F**K It John, and lots of other authors) argue that actually, when we SURRENDER to the world, just go with the flow and TRUST, that’s when the magic happens – but it goes so against how most of us were raised. We want to control everything.
I worry that I’m a loser if I stop wanting it and stop trying – that actually it’s just a form of laziness, of denial, that it means I’ve officially gone into La La land…
It’s a constant battle – the being in the NOW and being in the EGO – but I guess this whole thing is a ‘journey’ – isn’t that what all the gurus say? – and one step at a time.
So for now I’m going to keep working on appreciating the magic even when my mind wants to make a hell out of heaven. I’m going to keep corralling my brain away from the past and the future and bring it back to the NOW. Because every time I do, I feel better.
Right now I’m sitting in my favourite cafe (yup, my coffee shop habit is back) and that Depeche Mode song has just come on the radio… ‘All I ever wanted, all I ever needed is here in my arms.’ I’m singing quietly to myself and looking out the window at a bald man walking down the street wearing hot pink trainers. I have a warm feeling inside my tummy. A feeling of calm and joy so profound, that yet again tears prick my eyes and I realise that life is good, I am fine. These moments are precious but I think that if we pay attention we realise they’re happening all the time.The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment