We all try to find silver linings in COVID constraints. And it’s good to keep looking!
As I was running recently along the Burlington bikepath which borders Lake Champlain, I found myself 100% in the present moment, taking in the views of the lake and the Adirondacks, the colors of the changing leaves, and the calm air. It was close to a perfect day to run. My trusty Garmin indicated a solid pace. I felt smooth with a good rhythm. Afterwards, I reflected upon how often I miss the opportunity to be “all there” during my runs, taking in the elements and fully enjoying the present moment. As may be the case with others, I often find myself thinking about any number of things including how I should be able to run faster or contemplating the next race. Of course with COVID, race opportunities are now limited.
All this led to some existential thoughts. First, the present moment is really all we have. Everything in the past was built on prior present moments and the future will be the sum of those down the road. So, our lives are really the totality of present moments and that’s a pretty awesome thing to consider. Second, when we are not fully in the moment, something, or more likely many things, will pass us by. Once an opportunity is gone, it’s gone, solid gone! I am reminded of that watching the current baseball playoffs, where the commentators regularly slow down the sequence of the delivery from the pitcher to the hitter’s bat. If the batter is thinking about anything else in those .3 seconds, he’ll swing wildly and strike out. While running, how often have we tripped on a rock or root while not paying attention. (I have a series of scars on my knees and elbows as proof!) Third, time slows down in the present moment. I suppose it’s like calculus, where tangents meet and for that split second nothing moves, and time is both fleeting and infinite. These days, time seems to speed by with all there is to do. So the prospect of slowing time down is intriguing.
Most of us have or have had a close relative with some form of dementia compromising or eliminating short-term memory. The last five years of my father’s life, he lived almost exclusively in the past, able to pluck out minute details from years ago but not able to recall what was just said. Maybe we’ll get there ourselves someday. But for now, we can cherish the present moment and fill it with everything we have. Letting the small stuff pass and focus on the essentials. It’s quite freeing when we allow ourselves to do that.
I have heard some say running is their life. In reality, it’s a subset, at least if our lives are at all balanced. COVID-19 roils on, but I am finding some solace in being more in the moment during my runs, not worrying about COVID or the 10 things on my to do list. Letting all that be. And the beauty is it seems to carry over to the rest of the day. That’s welcome! If I have maintained an in-the-moment perspective, I seem to be spending time on those things that were, in retrospect, the most important, leading to a feeling of accomplishment. This sense of being in the moment is contagious, and I’m aiming to catch a terminal case of it!