I feel as though I’ve been holding my breath for the past two weeks. Since learning of my acceptance into grad school in Europe, it’s been a whirlwind. There is so much to do (sifting through and giving away most of my belongings, finding housing in Vienna, etc.) and so many people to see, that I often forget to remain fully grounded in the moment.
Occasionally, I’ll succeed in staying present. I’ll gasp at the beauty of the San Gabriel Mountains, a stone’s throw away from my house, on a particularly clear and beautiful day. I’ll have a playful exchange with my mom, and marvel at the ways our relationship has changed in the past year.
Another such moment occurred when I was going through my stuff, and came across a piece of paper with the title, “Things that make me happy.” Both sides were completely full, most entries just one or two words. Judging by the content, I’d say I wrote it sometime around late 2007 – early 2008.
I was looking through a stack of papers, somewhat absentmindedly, when I came across this gem. Upon seeing the title and some of the items on the list, I was suddenly pulled back into the present. I noticed the distinct sensations and emotions that passed through me while reading each entry, my body and mind internalizing and integrating the information. It was a wonderful exercise in contemplation, reflecting on the ways I’ve grown, as well as the things that still make me giddy, eight years later.
It inspired me to make another list, one with a little more description and depth, of small things in life that elicit joy in me.
- Movement – feeling my body in motion, whether it be dancing, hiking, shaking, or doing yoga
- Playing with kids, who are my greatest teachers in remaining present
- Live music, especially to the tune of Xavier Rudd
- Opening my heart to the power of forgiveness through the stories of others
- Conversations steeped in authenticity, openness, and compassion
- Immersing myself in the wisdom and inspiration contained in On Being blog posts
- Savoring the smell of pine trees, which remind me of camping trips in Mammoth
- The love I feel for this being, which is so infinite and unconditional and serves as a model for how I interact with the world
- Feeling steady and sure of every action I take, unconcerned with the opinions of others
As I look at this list, a spontaneous, deep breath returns, and I feel the contentment of being grounded in the here and now.