Things are Quieting Down, and I Don’t Like it One Bit


I’m a fan of the concept of “living in the Present Moment,” something recommended by spiritual sages throughout history and also by Pure Inspiration magazine.

I like thinking about it, talking about, writing about it, leading retreats about it. But I’m not very good at doing it — sometimes I don’t even like doing it.

If (as so often happens) it’s a sunny day, I’ve just sold an essay, and I’m walking in a field of daisies, then I’m down with the Present Moment thing.

Life Ain't All Daisies

Life Ain’t All Daisies

Most of the time, though, I either forget to live in it, don’t want to live in it, or have already moved on to planning my next Present Moment. Occasionally I’m obsessing about past Present Moments and what I might have done or said differently.

In Search of Discipline

Lately I am making an effort to clear my schedule — to say “no,” to refrain from filling every evening with friends or events, to just “be.” This didn’t begin as a spiritual practice; two happenstances coincided to bring on the intentional openness in my schedule. Well, three.

The first is that I’m working on my thesis. This is going to take serious discipline and organization, things at which I do not excel. I can get stuff done when I am essentially reacting — working with others under work plans and deadlines — but if I’m self-directed, big projects take some real doing. My inclination is to fill my time with everything except what I’m supposed to be doing. (My houseplants are extremely well tended lately.)

The second motivator was a meeting with my financial planner and an unpleasant surprise about my retirement plan, such as it is, which resulted in my beginning to keep a budget. It was truly a shock to find out how much money I spend and how much I waste. So I have to stay home more and be more intentional about my cooking, entertainment, and random purchases.  A spontaneous dinner out, a movie and popcorn (OK, and some Gummy Bears), a trip to the nursery for some annuals and herbs — these add up!

Thirdly, there is the chronic issue of my beyond-messy house. I bethought myself, “Self, if you stay home more, you can clean in all that spare time.” Not so much. I just mess up more. Well, that’s not completely true — I washed one-third of my bathroom floor the other night. Don’t ask.

Living (Uncomfortably) in the Moment

So there’s all this space. Space to live in the present moment, space to just be who I am, where I am. And it makes me anxious. Like something is supposed to be happening. Like I’m missing something. Like I *should* be doing something. Like I could jump out of my skin.

It’s crazy.

I’ve preached a sermon about this at my church; I’ve led retreats and classes about this; I’m in two weekly spiritual support groups where I often lead discussions about simplicity and silence and present momenting. I’ve stayed nice and busy preparing all those things.

Here I am, though, practicing what I preach. I am left alone with myself to remember how far I am from who I want to be, who I am meant to be.

Memories pop up. Feelings surface. Grief and guilt and shame emerge, and anger and angst.

I worry about climate change.

I remember that the odds are good I’m going to die someday, because people I love keep being sick and/or dying.

I know my discomfort is good. I even believe the dying part is good, intellectually. I know for sure there is a better place than this world because we have such a strong desire in our hearts for that better world.

One Thing is Certain

One Thing is Certain

Grant Me the Serenity

I’ve been working hard at trying to become my real, whole self. I made a life mission statement earlier this year, which helped, and my therapist and I continue to work through my childhood crap and how it affects me today. Of course, this means everything is all stirred up, but it needs to be stirred up in order to sift through the debris and silt at the bottom.

It’s all good, as they say. It just doesn’t always *feel* good.

Being here in my space, living in this present moment, leads me to pray and to meditate and to recall that I’m not in control of the universe. The only thing I can hope to control is myself.

There’s a prayer that’s used in Twelve-Step Recovery programs that I think says it all:

God, grant me the serenity (isn’t that an exquisite word?)

To accept the things I cannot change (friends, family, and me dying; mass shootings; government shutdowns)

The courage to change the things I can (dirty bathroom floors; my thesis; my finances)

And the wisdom to know the difference (does it have my name on it?).

I wish you serenity, friends.

Mountaintop Moment

Mountaintop Moment


The Spirituality of Attention Deficit Disorder

1 Comment

Having a touch of Attention Deficit Disorder can be a boon for the spiritual life. It’s never easy to live fully in the present moment, to gratefully embrace all that life brings, or to balance our “being” and “doing.” But I think that ADD can be an ally in these spiritual pursuits.

Being Here, Now

Spiritual sages throughout history have urged us to live in the present moment, fully aware of the sacredness in all that surrounds us. They say this is a universal pillar of spiritual growth. Making it an intentional practice can lead to wonder, which leads to gratitude: one of my favorite fruits of spirituality.

Brother Lawrence, a simple monk who lived in the 1600’s, is recognized as having learned to fully “practice the presence of God.”

Brother Lawrence

Brother Lawrence (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“In the noise and clatter of my kitchen,” he said, “while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were on my knees.”

This tranquility is usually far from us, since our minds are often occupied with worrying about what’s just happened, or preparing for something that might happen. We can be everywhere but where we are.

For me, though, with my lively ADD mind, I can be fully present from moment to changing moment. As the moments pass by, my brain and emotions happily follow, like a bouncing ping-pong ball. I’m wired that way. I can go from despair to joy fairly easily, like a child, in some ways.

Are You In or Out?

I was talking with a friend today about the inward-outward journey and how the spiritual life consists of both serving others and also finding time for solitude and silence. We need a balance, because if you’re all service and don’t take time to re-charge, you’re going to burn out, and if you’re overly monkish, you’re not helping the world.

I suppose you could argue that – I believe that monks and nuns praying for peace are indeed adding goodness to the universe. But most of us don’t live in convents, and we need balance.

Here again, my ADD allows me to move from contemplation and prayer to calling up a depressed friend in a matter of moments. Yes, I distract myself and sometimes have trouble with staying on task (unless I get into obsessive mode — another story), but my day is usually a balance of “doing” and “being,” just by virtue of the fact that I bop back and forth.

The Yin and the Yang

Here in the compartmentalizing western world, we talk about the yin and the yang, shadow and light, while in Chinese philosophy, it’s yin-yang: a dynamic, interactive relationship.

But even in this melded Chinese word, it’s still black and white. There’s no grey in the circle.

I’ve come to believe that, while life flows, it doesn’t flow from yin to yang, from good to bad, or from easy to hard. It’s both at the same time — two rivers together.

When my mother was dying, I was desperately sad, but at the very same time, I could see that those last days were treasures. I loved her more than I ever had, and I valued her life, every day of her 91 years. It was a privilege and a joy to be with her on her journey, till we got to the door I couldn’t go through. I am so, so grateful to have experienced that profound but terribly difficult time.

Again, I think that perhaps it’s easier for someone with mild ADD to appreciate this confluence. We have to hold a number of things in dynamic, non-linear tension all the time.

The Dog Ate My Homework

ADD is not a serious condition for me, and I don’t mean to make light of it. I am aware that people’s lives can be dreadfully disrupted by it.

I am frequently frustrated at my inability to get anything done because I get distracted, or lose things, or go running off in a different direction. For instance, right now I’m supposed to be designing a writing course, but I keep changing my mind about the content of the course. So I’m blogging instead of doing my homework.

dog eating homework

(As it turns out, bouncy brain is also a help to blogging. I am interested in *everything* and enjoy bounding from subject to subject.)

At any rate, my point is that ADD is yin-yang – it might frustrate me, but I can see some spiritual advantages, and I’m grateful for that revelation.

“Clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on DiscoverySchool.com”

%d bloggers like this: