Weddings are wonderfully magical passages of love and commitment, and totally stressful for the folks responsible for planning them. This last month has been a emotional ride for my son and his new bride (not pictured) as they went about the job of putting a wedding together. I too felt the stress as the bride’s family flew in from Hong Kong the week of the wedding, having never been to Canada and speaking little or no English.
You see, I am all about the details. I over-analyze every little element of a plan until I either go crazy with stress or perfect my vision of how the event should play out. And there were several events through out the week before the wedding to stress and perfect about.
I can thankfully say that for me, with age, has come wisdom and so I have gained enough experience from the past and have learned a few things about planning ahead. So then when the time of the event arrives, I can fully enjoy the moment. After all, when it comes to auspicious events for a family such as a wedding, or a birth, or even annual festivities such as birthdays and holidays, the greatest gift is to be fully present to savor the moment.
Our lives are really just a series of events strung along a time line. It is the richness of the memories of these events, good bad or otherwise that form our character and develop the story of our life. Instead of just going through the actions as the event plays out with our minds not fully engaged, but fractioned off on other issues and details, the more present we are during these adventures and experiences, the more epic the tale of our life’s may be.
Here are 3 tips to help you stay present, enjoy your life more and live a life rich with meaning and epic stories.
When I worked at a high end furniture store a few years back, we would say, as we were about to open the store for the day, “It’s Showtime.” What we meant by it was that it was time to leave all the crap that may have been going on outside of work aside for the moment and bring out our best self.
A professional performer knows that when the curtain lifts on the stage, the time for practise has past. There is no second takes, no do overs, no edits. The scene is set and the show goes on regardless of if all the details were taken care of or not.
So to be fully present when it really matters, you must let go of what ever doubt, fear, baggage or lack of planning you have and put it aside in this moment. It’s Showtime. You have a part to play. The character is you, your best self, and you need to be present and bring out your most authentic self for the role.
Enjoy The Ride
When you strap yourself into the seat of a rollercoaster, for the duration of the ride, you have no control of all the details that take place in order for the machine to operate smoothly. Even if you are the one responsible for the maintenance and care of the machine, once the ride starts, you have no control of whether the car you are sitting in will fly off the rails or if it will run smoothly along the track and perform exactly how it’s expected to. All you can do is let go of your control for a moment and enjoy the ride.
When you make the conscience decision to be content with all that you accomplished as you prepared for a big event or special occasion and then let go of the controls, you are better able to release any preconceived expectations; the should haves and didn’t do’s. You are then fully able to focus your mind on the present.
Take your hands off the safety handrail of control and delight in the experience. Have faith in the plans that are in place and the people tasks with administering them.
Put Away Your Device
You are at juniors recital. It’s her grand debut. And there you are with your smartphone raised up in front of your face as you attempt to video the performance. The crowd laughs as a little boy dressed as a tree in the background falls over. But you were so busy figuring out your zoom that you missed, both him, and your little divas reaction to the sprawled out greenery. Sure you have it on file on your phone but the present moment was lost, and it is there where the rich memory lies.
Being present means to be witness to the event. Junior does not care that you have a slightly off focused video of her recital. She wanted you to see her, to feel her anger at tree boy, and to feel empathy for her dream of stardom withering away.
The true moment, the one that means everything to the people involved and colours their memories with layers of rich emotions and strings yet another chapter to their personal storyline, is the only moment that matters. A video may document the event but can never capture the magic of the collective emotions present in that moment. Put away your device and enjoy the magic.
Being Present This Weekend
What I re-affirmed this weekend at my sons wedding was that nothing replaces being present. The memories I gained, the people I got to share those memories with and the new experiences I got to enjoy, would never have happened if I had decided to stay stressed over details that really didn’t matter. I have gained new friends because I consciously let go of my pre-conceived expectations of how events needed to take place and I also let go of the control of documenting this auspicious event and let the professional person who was tasked to take the pictures, do her job. Her work is far better than anything I could have created.
When I do get to see her work, I will also have my richly coloured emotional memories, that only being truly present and in the moment can create to add to my families epic storyline.