I found my mind wandering in a less than positive way today and was inspired to put on Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie by Bob Dylan* as I remember loving it, learning of it from one of my first mentors when I first started working in outdoor ed, who described it as 'the nicest thing I've ever heard anyone say about anybody.' All I wanted to do was sit and intently listen to the words. All I wanted to do after listening was read and read more, to consume information on this last day of Obama's presidency - the tributes, the reflections, the opinions from all sides, the facts as presented by different outlets, the stuff that I'm not sure where it falls. I feel a sense of mourning. I'm worried for what's next. I wanted to sit with my feelings of sadness and my worries, to sit with my thoughts. My little girl had other ideas.
As I sat on my kitchen floor, trying to listen to Dylan's prose coming out of the speaker on the counter, my daughter wanted to play. She toddler-ran to the adjacent living room, flopped on a blanket, then ran back to me and kissed me. Back to the living room, flop and laugh, back for a kiss. Over and over. I smiled, still trying to stay engaged with the recording. Then I giggled. Then I laughed and nothing else existed except what she and I were doing and that moment.
When she got distracted by another activity (eating peas, remnants of a snack she had forgotten about) and I stepped out of the moment, a thought crossed my mind - what if something bad were to happen? What if there was accident and my life is cut short? How would I have liked to spend one of my last days with my little girl? With her. Present. Steeped in this joy.
Present is how I want to spend every moment.
There is, undoubtedly, a fight ahead, even for me, who reflexively moves to diffuse and deescalate tense situations, who prefers to listen more than talk, prefers to challenge by asking questions instead of publicly proclaiming my views. I'll fight for her if needed, when needed. I'll fight for the people I love, to keep them safe. Yet, to do what I was trying to do - to try to imagine and then steel myself for scenarios where I may need to fight; to intentionally ruminate and feel sad; to actively worry about what's to come and feel fearful...I've lived in those head spaces before and it doesn't help, it doesn't work, it doesn't generate positive change, it doesn't prepare me for what will happen in future moments. To sit in those head spaces only invites depression and anxiety, which helps no one. It doesn't help me act now or later. It doesn't serve my values.
I'm here in moments. I'm here to help. I'm here to speak when needed. I'm here to listen even more. I'm here to write and share when I feel moved. I'm here to take action.
I'm not here to dwell, I'm not here to cower.
This life, lived in moments, is too important. These moments are too important. This moment is too important. This moment is the only one in which I can help and speak and listen and write and share. This moment is the only one in which I can act. I need to stay in this moment.
P.S. I've been recording three things I'm grateful for each day since the beginning of January. My three gratitudes for today: democracy, freedom of speech, the indomitable joy of the toddler spirit
*I'm finding myself drawn to the music of artists who served as voices of conscience or protest or inspiration during other tumultuous times. I'd love to hear about what others are listening to - please drop me a note on the Contact page.