I read a book for school by Lucy Grealy (Autobiography of a Face) in which she describes spending many months in a hospital. One of the stalls in the bathroom she liked to use had the phrase “Be here now” carved into the door. She contemplated the meaning of what that phrase meant and what the author of the graffiti might have meant when she (or, I guess it could have been a he, as well…) carved it. She admitted that she had no idea what it meant, not just to the author, but also in the general sense. There is a moment later in the chapter when she experiences a moment where “Be here now” applied, where she was attempting to get up from the cold, hard floor of her hospital room, and in order to get herself up from the floor and back to her bed, the only thing she could do was be in that moment and focus on nothing else but getting up.
When I was reading the book, I had no idea what “Be here now” meant, either. In all honesty, “Be here now” seemed like one of those spiritual, cliché phrases, the ones people throw out in situations where they don’t know what to say. It’s like when people say, “Everything happens for a reason” when someone experiences a huge loss, or when people say, ”The grass isn’t always greener” when someone doesn’t get what they want. But, then as I was talking to someone – someone much wiser than I could ever hope to be – and I expressed to her my desire -- my need -- to focus on my life as it is in this moment, to stop stressing about what’s happening tomorrow or next week or next month, to stop worrying about all the things that I can’t control, she looked at me and said, “Be here now.”
It was one of those moments that you read about in books or that you see in all the unrealistic romantic comedies, but, that moment in Lucy’s book came back to me and it hit me, what those words really meant; what Lucy understood in that moment.
It’s the thing I’ve been trying to do for the past few months and it’s also the thing I’ve never been good at. My whole life has been made up of moments of stress and worry, trying to control my life and control everything around me to make sure things happen the way I feel like they need to or the way I feel I want them to. When my life makes a turn in a direction that scares me, my instinctual response is to let the fear and worry consume me. I never saw my life as it was, but only how it was going to be or how it should be or would be.
I’ve spent the past five months being consumed. I worry about where my life is going. I worry about not being where I hoped to be or where I want to be. I worry about being behind in life. I worry about how long I will have to wait or if I’m waiting for absolutely nothing. I worry if everything I understood to be real is, in fact, not at all real.
But, I don’t want to live my life that way anymore. I want to see what’s in front of me and embrace it. I want to work hard on the things happening in my life right now and not focus my energies on things that aren’t happening and may never happen. I want to love who I am now instead of trying to create the person I will be.
Now, if only understanding how to do it was as easy as understanding what it means…