Living in the simplicity of the present

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I have been changed by the experience of leaving city life behind. The greatest change has been my new ability to at least occasionally be in the present. I see now that before I moved here, I was constantly stressed out, and in distraction mode.

“Distractions are both more tempting and more destructive than we realize. It’s tempting to fill in every little minute of the day with productivity or distractions. Don’t. Leave some emptiness.”  – Zen Habits

It seems to me that cities are set up for constant distraction. Any time you feel uncomfortable in any way, you can call up someone to go see, order some new kind of food, go out shopping or to see a movie. People in cities spend most of their time sitting in traffic or driving somewhere else. Cities are distraction machines, and the Internet is the ultimate, easily available escapism.

meditation and the sun

Being in the present means you are not planning ahead. You are sitting still, willing to be here now to observe and absorb your present surroundings with no thoughts of yesterday or tomorrow, and no need to distract yourself. I find many of the observations of ZenHabits.com useful in my new mindset:

“If you’re filling your life with distractions, its probably because you’re afraid of what life would be like without constant Internet, social media, news, TV, games, snacks.”

To be honest, I never really had the time to gain full awareness of all of this until I moved away from modern American life. I knew I was anxious and not as relaxed as I wanted to be in the city, and now I see why. Cities simply raise anxiety levels. I know because it took me at least a year away from a city to see how anxious I have been most of my life, and then find ways to allow myself to truly relax.

I have been a worry shopper my whole life. Once I solved one problem I moved on to the next one. Here there is so little to worry about, leaving me much more time to focus on what is important to me. Now that’s a great new challenge! And what is important to me now is a few important relationships, and appreciating the natural world and its wonders.

We can sit and dream about so many things, but we would be wasting our lives. This present reality is all we get. Let’s learn to love it.

 

 

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14 thoughts on “Living in the simplicity of the present

  1. When I lived near Walsenburg and I was coming down the I-25 from Colorado Springs, just getting off the plane from L.A., around the point where you dip down in a free fall down the freeway, I think it is after Colorado City, I would always feel this big weight being lifted off my shoulders like I could finally breathe again. There is something about Huerfano and the Peaks, the energy is liberating.

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  2. Lately I have been realizing just how much living in the city is getting to me. When I first moved here (Boston) over 20 years ago, I loved it. I loved all the places to eat and shop and my commute on the T to work was 15 minutes away. In fact on nice days I could walk downtown to work. It was lovely. But now that I am older, I no longer want to always have to walk to the store. I long to drive to the grocery store and put my groceries in the trunk! The streets are getting ever more crowded and my neighborhood is constantly under construction as they tear down this building to build that building. The noise, the dirt, it is all too much.
    In 2015 we bought a lovely little home in Arizona in the quiet suburbs. The desert is out our back door and at night we can ear owls and all manner of night roaming critters. We love it there. But our move has been delayed as we continue to raise our grandson. Next summer if all goes as planned when he graduates from high school we will make our move. Until then I will read of your and others adventures in the peace. Thanks for your lovely blog.

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  3. When I think back on the time, over 30 years ago, when I lived with my husband in rural Northwest Arkansas – yes, there is a lot of truth in this. I’ve lived in a small city the last 30 years. Would I want to go back to country living? I am not sure. I have a friend who lives in the rural part of our county. When her husband (much older than she is) became sick, she found that services for sick elderly were lacking once you crossed the city border. How shameful! There is food for a lot of thought here, though.

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    • Yes, health services are a concern as we age. That is the reason why my parents ended up moving back to the city. Luckily we have an amazing ER, hospital and veterans home 10 minutes away from us!

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  4. I like your expression of a “worry shopper” and can see how city life has its down sides. I live in a smaller town and love my time in my garden, tranquil patio, and walking with my dog, plus time in church where my focus is on good things.

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  5. Pingback: Boomer thoughts, pet peeves & happenings - Carol Cassara

  6. I’m happy for you that you’ve let go of the city life and fully embraced the beauty of living where you are. When I lived in the Texas Hill Country, I could feel the city and the traffic melt away as soon as I turned off the main road onto the road that led to my home. The quality of life is better and you learn what it’s like to “stop and smell the roses.”

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