Go! Live in the Moment!

Posted on December 9th, 2008 by Melindaville

Greetings from Boston, Massachusetts!

Early in my recovery, I found myself trapped by either living in the pain of my past—or in the fear of the future.  Living in the present allows us to Go! Smell the Flowers! as well as to simply enjoy the great pleasure of being alive.

I have found that if our hearts remain open, we often meet people along our journey who help to teach us the lessons we need.  I have learned some major lessons in life from some unexpected sources!

One lesson happened early in my recovery from heroin addiction, when I was about six months clean.  I had just returned to Bozeman, Montana, where I had begun attending classes at the University.    To support myself, I found a job driving a taxi, which I had experience doing earlier in my life when I was a cabbie in New York City…..

One of the contracts the taxi company had was with a non-profit organization called REACH,  whose mission is to help support adults with developmental disabilities, in hope that they might ‘reach’ their potential and aspirations.   I would pick the clients up from their group homes and take them to their jobs (if their disabilities allowed them to be able to hold one) or to drive them back and forth from the center itself, where those who could not work engaged in activities and therapy.

The REACH taxi was not so much a taxi per se, but a large van, capable of holding up to ten clients at a time.
Onc day, I picked up a group of REACH clients to take them to the center for the day.  As I arrived, I realized there was a terrible fight occurring amongst two of the clients.  I calmed them down enough to get them into the van but as soon as we took off, the bickering continued.  Each time I would say something, it would stop but as soon as a moment passed, it would start up again.  Finally, I pulled over and told them I was not going to be able to drive unless they stopped since it was so distracting to me and their safety was involved.  It continued, though, albeit on a lower decimal level.   We finally made it to the center and I saw them off the van, noticing the bickering was still continuing.  Since we were assigned to work for the REACH clients an entire day at a time, I knew I would also be picking up the same clients up that evening, driving them back to the group home—and to be honest, I was dreading picking them up all day.  I dislike arguing or fighting of any kind and hate being brought into the middle of it.

However, an interesting phenomenon occurred when I went to pick the clients up that evening—and I noticed it right away!  The same two clients who had been at each other’s throats (almost literally!) were now holding hands, beaming at each other as they climbed into the van to return home.  I was dumbfounded!  What had happened?  Throughout the drive back to the group home, I kept glancing in the rearview mirror, warily waiting to see if a fight might break out.  Nothing did.  They skipped out of the van and into the group home.

I sat outside the group home for a while after that, thinking about what had happened.  I realized that these people had taught me an important lesson about being able to live in the present.  The fight that morning was long gone.  Over.  They had moved on and were enjoying each other for the present.  Sure, the fight had been intense, during the present of the morning—but after it had passed, it was truly gone and there was no need to dwell on the bitter feelings of what had occurred previously.

As I sat there, it dawned on me what an important lesson these folks had taught me.  Not only did these clients not live in the past, I also realized I had never heard any of them worry about what might happen to them the next day, next week, or next year.  They simply lived for every moment and seemed so content to do that.

I still can get sucked into the pain of my past—and occasionally, I find myself gripped in an icy fear of what the future might hold—but mostly, I learned from this amazing group how wonderful it is to really live in the present.

Where do you live?  Do you live in the pain of the past?  Fear of the future?    Alternatively, do you live in the moment?

Cheers!

Melindaville


17 Responses to “Go! Live in the Moment!”

  1. Melinda,

    For the moment, in Southern California. Oh, that isn’t what you meant, huh? My biggest goals are to “be” and to be present which basically means to be aware of my thoughts and feelings in the moment. But, a lot of what is there in the moment is the past because I didn’t live in the moment then. I am finding that eventually, if it is traumatic that if you didn’t live in the moment then, then you live that moment again in the present. So, then it becomes the present of the past that has to be experienced in order to really live. Maybe, it would be better to write about the moment of living in Southern California. LOL!!

    I am trying to live in the moment which for now includes the pain of my past.

    CC

    • Melindaville says:

      Hi CC,

      I do know what your goals (and your battles) are–and believe me, I am cheering you every step of the way. I see a good deal of my own journey in your struggles and know how hard it is to reach a place of ‘wholeness.’ Of course, when we undergo therapy, we have to go into the past–I believe when trauma is involved, you have to face the trauma before you can put it to rest. But once you reach that point where you have successfully treated your trauma, you truly will be able to live in the moment–

      Be gentle with yourself until that time comes :)

      Hugs,

      Melinda

    • Melindaville says:

      Hi CC–I actually wanted to revise what I wrote to you.

      When you are undergoing therapy, it is important to uncover the past and face your trauma–because only then can you really move on.

      However, I hope you can try to not dwell in past too much–because that can be unhealthy also. Remember, no matter what–we cannot change the past. We cannot undo what has been done–we can only understand what happend, find acceptance with what happend, and then move on.

      When I was in recovery, talking about my childhood sexual abuse for the very first time ever, it was very difficult for me to not keep playing the therapy sessions over in my brain. I was going to grad school at the time and it was so distracting. I felt I lived in the past more than the present, it was so strong. My therapist had me start doing exercises aimed at retraining my thoughts so that I didn’t dwell in those places.

      Therapy should be used to heal the past–not to continue to wallow in it. I know you do know this–but I wanted to clarify that when you are not in therapy, you can and should try to live in the moment as much as you can. Pretty soon, you will find yourself visiting the past only to reclaim your life–but living primarily in the stunning present. This is my wish for you.

      Hugs,

      Melinda

      • Your are funny, Melinda,

        My therapist tells me that I keep running away from my past. So that when it comes up in the present, I shut down instead of facing what is there. I don’t want to face reality and since that is also in the present in the form of triggers and flashbacks, so I don’t deal with it. So to “be” and in the “present” is a tough task for me. And to let my therapist and I both be is a whole other battle…sometimes only one can exist other times no one can.

        Like the past couple of days, I don’t want to stay in the present with what I am still feeling because it taps into my past, so emotionally I am withdrawing.

        CC

        • Melindaville says:

          CC,

          I cannot really speak to your experiences because each of our paths are different, although we share commonalities in our childhood traumas. I can only speak to what worked for me. For me, I needed to face my past and once I did that, I was able to move past it. Now for years, I had dwelled in my past–but that was not facing it and moving forward.

          Life can be extremely painful–but it is also so beautiful. I hope that you can try to find some beauty in each day because I know now that life truly is a gift–both the pain and the beauty.

          Hugs–I hope you feel better very soon. Try not to be hard on yourself.

          Melinda

  2. Melinda,

    Oh, I love your story and completely understand. You had one of the toughest jobs in that field. I do miss work and am glad that we couldn’t do any transportation. I’m sure that you learned and were able to practice your clinical skills without even knowing it. Oh, the stories you must have.

    CC

    • Melindaville says:

      My New York taxi days provided me with even more stories! Lol–those were some crazy times. I really loved driving the taxi in Montana–LOVEDthe taxi company. When I arrived there, I hadn’t worked a ‘normal’ job in over 10 years–literally, there was nothing on my resume. They took a big chance in giving me a that job–and I never forgot it. Whenever they needed a fill in, I happily volunteered.

      And I really did love talking with people–and you are right! I found myself questioning and analyzing so many of my passengers, particularly the ones who took long trips in the taxi (we would drive people up to ski resorts and other places far away).

      Take care,

      Melinda

  3. Real Talk says:

    regardless everyone lives in the present or ‘the moment’

    the only person ever to have done differently was michael j fox when he owned a delorean car- and he ended up turning into a wolf and getting parkinsons.

  4. Svasti says:

    Great story Melinda, and I’ve had similar experiences working in the past with Downs Syndrome kids, many years ago now. I joined two friends in the acting classes they ran for these kids. The other thing I loved about that time was the intensity with which those folks would express their emotions – no fear to hold back or temper their output – just pure feeling.

    Which, wasn’t always the prettiest experience, except when it was. But it was purely presence. I’d think, we’re teaching them about acting – or are we? Perhaps we were just giving them a place to express what they already did so well.

    As you know, I’m doing what I can (which is everything) to ensure I’m fully embedded in the moment. There’s a few hitches along the way… but its my home base now. Where it wasn’t for quite some time. :)

    • Melindaville says:

      Svasti! All these commonalities we share! I know just what you mean about the emotion (and it was in full force that morning in the taxi). We had many Down’s patients, as well as head trauma survivors and other forms of disabilities–but I do know what you mean. REACH also did plays with them–and it always looked like so much fun. Since I drove the taxi the entire time Iwent to college, I got to know many very well–and I still go visit their group homes when I am back in Bozeman. They live in the present–but they do remember me very well (not to mention they love the candy I always bring!).

      Cheers!

      Melinda

  5. Jim says:

    Hi Melinda,

    Being in the now (have you read that Echhart tolle book – The power of now?) is a work in progress for me although it really is the only thing that truly exists with yesterday being history. tomorrow and mystery and today a gift!

    (Focusing on my breathing right now – thanks for the reminder)

    I’ve tended to be very excited and optimistic about most future situations as my child like enthusiasm gets the better of me so long my that continue….the past is a surreal thing for me as I wonder where the last 36 years have gone…..

    • Melindaville says:

      Hi Jim,

      My husband tells me he is amazed that throughout life and all its traumas that I have been able to keep such optimistism and trust in others. I don’t know why that is either–although I do think it is innate in some of us, which is a great thing. I also have a child like wonder at life for so many things!

      Melinda

  6. Mike says:

    Great post did you see my article on the Piraha tribe?

    http://gosmellthecoffee.com/archives/6074

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