Be where you are, otherwise you will miss your life. ~ Buddha
Growing up, my siblings and I were not allowed to refer to a future date without adding the words “If God spare.” Unravelled this reads as “If God spares my life.” The equivalent in Arabic is “Inshallah” – “If Allah wills it.”
It is a recognition that tomorrow is not ours to put tabs on. Tomorrow may never come, indeed, and we mere mortals make plans and God laughs. Words rubbed smooth into cliche but is nonetheless a practice I took into adulthood more often than not – context and place permitting. (Wishing work colleagues a nightly farewell until the morrow with the words “If God spares my life” can spook those not schooled in the ways of mindfulness.)
Still, my own attention to mindfulness has come hard won, but became necessary when aspects of my life took a vote and decided to go tits up. But even when that life was taken by the scruff of the neck and told to damn well pull itself together, I noticed an increased clumsiness in myself even when ill health was no longer a factor.
For a period of time, it was a given if I had hold of an object, any object, it would end up at my feet smashed to smithereens. Or reaching for an item in a cupboard would bring down whatever else was in its near vicinity. Some mornings, I considered putting a mattress on the bathroom floor to catch the face cream, deodorant, perfume, et al, which invariably ended in scented chaos around my feet – or on my big toe. Yes, I’m looking at you clay soap dispenser. Note to self: “Ouch!”
So, the phrase “If God spares my life,” became less esoteric and a physical concern in those days.
I mentioned this increased clumsiness to a medic who poo-pooed the notion I should put it down to increased age and senility. No. He said because my mind was not in the present but on a myriad of other concerns and stresses, I was not being mindful of the kettle in my hand, the vase of flowers I was carrying, or the candle I was lighting. I needed to stay in the present with whatever I was doing and the clumsiness would subside. That, with care, I wouldn’t burn down the apartment and that I would live to see the next day. (God willing.)
And I did.
There have been fewer breakages and mishaps as I keep my feet and mind firmly in today or, better still, in the moment. No, it doesn’t always work, but prolonged inattention is brought to an abrupt halt when I drop the first household item.
A game I learned at a recent family reunion (thanks to my eldest daughter and niece) also helps keep me mindful. When I blithely say of an evening “Jeez, that was a shit day,” I am minded to play the ‘Rose, Thorn, Bud’ game. This is where at the end of a day we acknowledge something that went well (Rose); something that wasn’t so good, or plans that didn’t go to plan (Thorn); and lastly something we are looking forward to the next day (Bud).
My feature photograph was the Bud I was looking forward to yesterday. A day of reading, writing (the iPad is hidden in my rucksack), taking floral photographs for the business and at some point lounging in the sun listening to music.
If one definition of depression is the inability to see hope in the days ahead, finding my Bud each day helps counter low times.
Even on those days when thorns are pricking the hell out of my life, I try to find Roses, but especially a Bud, anything which will help me face tomorrow – if God spare.