the future
Young caucasian blonde woman unhappy looking in camera with sarcastic expression.

Sometimes the unknown of change can feel uncomfortable, scary, and even frightening. So how can we move through times of change and stay connected to ourselves/each other, vulnerable, courageous, and resilient – all in the name of new beginnings?

Fearing the future

I recently had a conversation with a coworker. He told me how his eleven-year-old daughter gets stressed out about the future sometimes – the unknown, what lies ahead. She starts by worrying that she needs to get good grades in school to do well in high school to get into college and then get a job. She has no idea what kind of job she wants, and she worries because she knows that she will need to make a living one day.

Whew, that’s a lot of stress for an eleven-year old’s tiny shoulders!

But I can relate. When I start to think too far into the future – how my children’s lives will unfold, what kind of future they will have, or what my future will look like – it is easy to begin to feel uncomfortable and worried.

So what are we to do in the face of changing times and uncertain futures?

Getting to the future one moment at a time

I remember what gives me comfort when too-far-in-the-future thinking doesn’t feel so good. I reel in my perspective, back to the present, where I can focus on what’s right in front of me. And I begin to feel better.

The vast future and the changes that we hope, pray and wish for don’t necessarily happen when we dream them or after a New Year’s resolve.

Sometimes new beginnings happen softly, subtly – moment by small moment.

When thinking too far ahead doesn’t feel right, we can pause and drink in the moments right in front of us – revel in their color, texture, and fish. They may become the brilliant bright spark moments, catalyst moments, one by one that leads us forward on the trail to new beginnings.

So I’ve decided to start 2021 – a good year for change and new beginnings – really immersed in the present moment, whether I’m folding laundry at home, standing in line at the grocery store, dancing to a groovy beat, or cleaning ash from my helmet after a fire. Here’s my list to help make the most of the moments in front of me:

1. Become present.

Stop and decide to be “in” the very moment before you. You may need to physically pause what you are doing to become centered and present. It’s like jumping into a pool. So take a breath – close your eyes momentarily, pause, breathe – and take the plunge into the present.

2. Invite your senses to open fully.

Get your six senses (yes, six) ready to investigate, feel, process, and devour this moment entirely. See, hear, smell, touch, taste everything you can at this moment, and watch with wonder how your present moment morphs from a foggy forgettable blur into a dynamic-swirling-alive-beyond HD clarity-and-color moment. And of course, remember to invite your sixth sense – your intuition – to play. How are your collective senses informing you about this moment?

3. Feel.

With your six senses opened and alive, let your feelings emerge fully. However, you feel it is perfect; there is no judgment on surfaces. Feel into all of it at this very moment in time – light and dark. When you allow yourself to feel your varied human emotions, you open up the way for what comes next.

4. Listen. 

As you feel through this once in a lifetime moment with your whole body – through your heightened senses and feelings – be open to any messages or guidance this moment has for you. What are you hearing, feeling, sensing, seeing, getting to do? If anything?

5. Act.

From this place of magnified and enhanced aliveness, your next step will become readily apparent to you. Your next step may be full-throttle action. Your next step may be to engage in the very next moment.

When we become awake and alive in our every moment, we will have activated and illuminated the perfect path before us. And gradually, we will begin to feel hopeful – not hopeless; we will start to feel empowered – not powerless. And the unknown future or new beginning that once seemed far away, impossible to picture, or just plain out of reach, seems more straightforward and closer with every intentional moment. We are ready to take on the world one step at a time.

I suggest to my coworker that maybe his daughter can bring her focus back from the unknown and scary future that seems so far away. Perhaps she can get her focus to what’s right before her – in the current moment. What is THIS particular moment can she pay attention to, moment after a small moment?

Will you join me in this practice, friends, moment by moment?