“If you want to be happy, do not dwell in the past, do not worry about the future, focus on living fully in the present.” - Roy T. Bennett
My friend and fellow coach, George B Carver, was my guest on this week’s Insightful Conversation. George is a 3 Principles Practitioner and Transformative Coach whose specialty is helping people struggling with life transitions such as retirement, illness, or career change. George knows firsthand how unsettling these challenging life events can be. Before George became a coach, he had a successful career in Financing. It was the conjunction of the economic crisis of 2008 and a series of health issues that had George decide on a career change at the age when most people are considering retirement.
Two years into his coaching career, George faced another major health challenge when he was diagnosed with HPV 16 throat cancer. Although he was reassured that it was treatable and curable, the very first thought that crossed his mind was, “what if I die?” As a loving husband and father, George’s greatest fear was losing his connection to his family. In that very same moment, George experienced a profound spiritual enlightenment that showed him that his connection with his family could never be broken even if he died. From that moment forward, all fear of death and cancer left him. George said that the experience of facing his own mortality enabled him to be more present to his family than at any other time in his life.
How many of us innocently waste vast amounts of our time not living in the present moment? We get lost in the cacophony of our busy minds, ruminating over the past or dreading a future that never materializes? Sometimes it takes a significant life event, as was George’s case, to remind us that all we have is the present moment. Other times the wake-up call is less personal.
Around this time last year, I had an experience that woke me up to the insanity of what I was doing. It was one of those days where I was in a low mood with my mind in overdrive. I was obsessing over a minor incident from earlier that morning that I had taken personally. I had spent the whole morning brooding and letting my thinking ruin my state of mind. Later that afternoon, with my mind still chuntering away, I passed a group of police cars blocking the entrance to my local canyon. I tuned the car radio to the news station to get an update on the cause of the road closure. That’s when I heard the news that Kobe Bryant had died in a helicopter crash just a few miles from where I lived.
I didn’t know Kobe Bryant, and neither am I a sports fan, but I took the news of his and his daughter’s death hard. I was sure the last thing on their minds that morning when they stepped onto that helicopter was that this was going to be their last day on earth. I was struck by how fragile life is. That at any moment, our time in the physical world of form can be over. Like a slap in the face, I realized that I had wasted the last seven hours of my life mulling over an inconsequential incident that was already in the past. I asked myself, would I have willingly handed over those seven hours if I knew I only had one week to live? The answer was a resounding NO.
Whenever I find myself falling into the old habit of brooding over the past or feeding my insecure thoughts of my future, I remind myself of that day a year ago. I remind myself that my life is too precious to waste on indulging fantasies of an illusionary past or future. I remind myself that all I have is the present moment.
I don’t know how long I will be here in the world of form, but I know that I want to live it like each day could be my last. I want to let petty grievances go. I want to let my family and loved ones know how much I love them. I want to let myself be fully present to what is. I want to cherish the gift of life in all its forms, knowing that everything is exactly as it is meant to be. That’s what living in the present moment means to me.
With love and appreciation, Del 💕