If only I could master the wise and ancient discipline of living in the moment.
I breathe in. I breathe out. I sigh deeply and shake my head.
I understand the goal but find the practice extremely challenging. It seems virtually impossible to keep my restless mind from obsessing gloomily about the past or tiptoeing trepidatiously into the future.
Nowhere would present-moment awareness be more useful to me, and nowhere is it more lacking, than in my romantic life.
At any given time, you can find me brooding about at least one of two types of men. Neither one exists in real time as a present-moment relationship but either species can dominate my thoughts and eat up endless hours.
Type Number One is a former love whom I haven’t seen in years and who exists only in my memory and imagination. Who cares that he is nowhere to be found in the present. In my memory, all the loveliness of our time together is preserved in High Def, and all the frightening fight scenes, hurt and heartbreak, have been erased by Time and Denial.
His image is equally vivid in my fantasies, where I enjoy daily, and sometimes hourly, screenings of The Return of My Ex…a Happily Ever After melodrama about a rapturous reunion whose details change but plot remains the same: He Comes Back, We Surrender to Passion, We Meld With Each Other and Remain Joined and Joyful for All Time.
Type Number Two is someone I know casually whom I am sure is Destined to be My Man at some unspecified point in the…present?…No, future of course. We have almost no contact in the present. When we do have a fleeting encounter, it is committed to memory, where I edit and tweak it into a convincing snippet of a love story. TN2 is a pleasant acquaintance with whom there is enough chemistry to produce a credible fantasy of being a couple but (as with TN1) not enough of a relationship to produce a romance outside of my imagination.
Why do I do these ridiculous things? The most obvious answer is that old bugaboo known as fear of intimacy. In my twisted way of thinking (or the unconscious depths of my brain) a largely imaginary relationship has a couple of advantages: I can control it and I will never get close enough to it for it to hurt me. It also probably came in handy at my all-girls high school to have a fierce romantic imagination that could make a rare date or dance occupy my thoughts for several months. I guess that was better than facing up to the true depths of my teenage loneliness.
Clearly there are some things that I need to recognize…right this very minute:
I left my all-girls institution many decades ago and have no need to invent or enhance relationships.
Friendships or romances that barely exist in daily life don’t exist at all.
Living in my memory and imagination is neither mentally nor spiritually healthy.
Living in my memory and imagination is a great way to end up really crazy and lonely.
The human connection that I am hoping for will only show up in the present and I will only be there to greet him if I’m living in the present.
Guess I’m going to have to take another shot at Being Here Now.