We live in a world that is moving at breakneck speed all around us. While some days seem to drag along like a high school history class, other days race past like a hummingbird out to feed. The world is shrinking at our fingertips, and yet our life yawns out before us. And in the confusion of what to do with all this, we just wait. We wait for the next event in our day, the next milestone in our career, the next cheat day, the next vacation. We simply wait. This wait seems so inherent and natural, so necessary, so fruitful. We wait without realizing. We wait with bated breath.
What we don’t appreciate is exactly this. That this time that we use for waiting, this time in between moments, this time while we are putting off being happy or worrying or working, this time that we are seemingly wasting, waiting, is actually an exceptionally magical time. We rarely enjoy what we are doing while we are doing it. We love it in retrospect or in anticipation, but most of us never live in the present, even if we think we do. While recently studying and practicing mindfulness, I came across a quote on the Headspace app I use for practice – “Life is short. We can live it lost in thought or we can choose to be present as life unfolds around us.” That is truly a skill – to experience the present consciously.
Life in between moments is quite exhilarating. In living from event to event, we forget to pause, and if we do it is only to think about the upcoming event. I have learnt that getting in touch with your thoughts – what you feel currently – is a powerful way of practicing mindfulness, and if given enough practice and enough time, it turns into a habit. An introspective experiment of sorts, where you learn to understand yourself, scold yourself, appreciate yourself, and most importantly, be grateful. In the mindfulness exercises, one of the primary recommendations alongside conscious breathing, is experiencing gratefulness.
In November last year, I took a month-long gratefulness initiative – every day of the month I would thank someone, be kind, appreciate, do something nice or just acknowledge someone. It involved writing ‘thank you’ notes, sending flowers, complementing. When I consciously took on this challenge, the most prominent feeling I had was, interestingly, of nervousness. On one instance, the prompt read “write a thank you note for a coworker”. I had a number of co-workers in mind that I could thank, but I was frankly quite edgy about it – would my colleague think I am a weirdo, would they think I wanted something in return for this, would they make fun of me silently? This just goes to show that we pay such less attention to personalities and relationships and put all our energies instead on external occurrences. We define ourselves as the sum of everything that has happened to us and will happen to us, and in the process lose perspective.
Utilizing the time in between moments to understand ourselves, separate ourselves from the occurrences, and focus on what is true and what we merely conjure to satisfy ourselves is essential to hone ourselves and our outlook towards the world. Like John Lennon once said, “The time you enjoy wasting, is not wasted time”. So, take your time and waste it well.