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Finding the Magical Presence of Summer

Summer has finally come. When I recall my childhood I remember found summer carefree days of biking, hanging out with my friends and playing baseball, soccer or football.  Those memories bring an air of joy and lightness in the spirit of my heart.  Hopefully we’ve all experienced something similar to that when we were children. Even now, when summer days came and the light shines early and the days remain long; it creates that same feeling of lightness and joy.  The kind of joy you observe when see young children playing outside with each other.  They’re playing and interacting with each other without thinking of the past or future and living in the moment.  No prejudices, no posturing, nothing to prove, no worries of the future and no anchors from the past hindering their presence.  Young children live and immerse themselves in the moment and interact with a breath of honest liveliness.   Nothing takes years off and lessens the weight off your shoulders when you witness these bundles of innocence at play….until they have to go ‘potty’ or really need to ‘eat something right now’!  The question I’d like to address today is how often do we as adults live in that child like state? (Note that ‘childlike’ should not be mistaken with childish).

Living like children, in that state of presence, gets more challenging as we move on through life. We learn social boundaries, cultural norms and introduce expectations of the future.  Many times when we move along in the busy-ness (busi-ness) of life we forget the way we were as children. Our modern life has a way of introducing wants, needs and expectations that are driven by desires of achievement and material goods. We want more ‘X’, need more ‘Y’ whether those are monetary in nature or shadows of ego such as recognition, acceptance, control etc.  We enter into this state of uneasiness and restlessness as we create a habit of chasing outcomes with our thoughts and inner desires. That’s when our focus shifts to future potential or happenings, which takes away from our true present self.

If we feel down, fearful, we are looking behind in our rearview mirror into the past and wondering if things could or should have been different.  Did we miss something? Is there regret or circumstances that we still carry long after the event or situation has passed?   Those thoughts of past histories also takes us away from being in the present. Lao Tzu, the ancient Chinese philosopher said it best:

If you are depressed, you are living in the past

If you are anxious, you are living in the future

If you are at peace you are living in the present

The reality is that state of being carefree and present is a state of mind that can be cultivated, just as some people have learned to cultivate the habit of worrying about future promises or pitfalls that may or may not come.  Too often, I’ve seen way too many people worry about future events with such imaginative detail, thinking it will prepare them for those possibilities- most which never come to light.  Thinking about the negative future is a great way to cultivate an anxious state.  Thinking about the future consistently pulls us away from our present purpose.

The gift of knowing that at any given moment all we have is the present. This is the gift we can give ourselves and others around us.  This gift is the difference between great mental and emotional health and poor toxic health that erodes our inner peace.  If you need good role models look at the young playful children, they know that being in the ‘now’ really is the only thing that matters because good mental health is a choice.

As we age we are forced with this reality of presence more than ever. In other words, as we have less life we sometimes see more life.  Summer days help us recall the importance of creating presence. As the sun sets in the twilight years people can either focus and look fondly, or not, on what’s happened in the past and that will affect where they are in the immediate present.  Some may turn to the future  as the day is drawing to a close and anxiously try to catch up with missed opportunities that they wished they had lived.  Then there is the ‘wise-child like folks’ who look at the setting sun and live in the present moment and enjoy it second for second until the night arrives.  Choose wisely, because great health choices certainly do matter.

 

The Community Early Years Partnership disseminates information about and promotes optimal infant and early childhood development to healthcare providers, community partners, parents and caregivers.

 

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