The yellowed linoleum floor was cool beneath my bare feet as I ran to the front door. I turned the metal handle down, as I’d done countless times, as I cracked open the door and leaned out. The air had the dewy scent of early morning and the promise of a hot, humid afternoon. I breathed in and imagined the possibilities of the day to come.
This scene is imprinted in my mind. I was a young girl, and this happened 30 or more years ago. What is most impressive to me is how this snippet of memory, the 60 seconds out of the over one billion seconds I’ve been alive, stands out. It’s a simple memory which really didn’t change the course of my life. I couldn’t tell you what I did that day. But there it remains, fixed, a simultaneous reminder of what is and what could be.
Perhaps it is that simultaneous “what is and what could be” that makes the memory so sweet. We tend to think of what could be as a future goal, something that is still out of reach. What if what could be was right now?
Living in and appreciating the now helps us understand ourselves and quiets our minds. When our minds are quiet, we are better able to open ourselves to possibility. The possibility becomes a known, felt entity in our bodies at that moment, not in some future moment that doesn’t yet exist. Living the possibility in the here and now makes it feel alive and tangible. Humans are motivated by feeling and emotion. Living in the moment, accepting and appreciating what is (perfect or not), sets our minds in a positive energy that infuses everything after.
The next time you’re feeling like everything is out of reach, take a few slow, deep breaths. Slow, deep breaths reset your brain and make you more receptive. Notice the air moving through your nose and filling your lungs, and notice the warmth of your breath as you exhale. Now, notice some things you appreciate (the green leaves against the blue sky, the taste of salty popcorn, your children getting out the door to school on time). Take the time to really feel the appreciation for each of these things. The more often you do this exercise, the more your brain builds the path toward positivity and the more open you become.
Not every day can be like that summer day – and they don’t have to be. We search for moments, touchpoints along the journey. As they say, it’s about the journey, not the destination, so when we make the journey delightful, the destination is moot.
Mary Gagnon is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and the Training and Clinical Development Specialist for Health Affiliates Maine. Mary has worked in private practice as well as a variety of community mental health settings throughout her career. Her most recent work at Health Affiliates Maine includes oversight of clinicians in private practice and development and facilitation of trainings for schools and conferences throughout the state.