This is a guest post by Paul Buggy.
But I need to be reminded every day. Actually, more frequently than that. I’d say about 4 or 5 times a day. Paul, remind me, what do I need to be reminded of?
I need to be reminded that as long as I am thinking that I won’t be happy until — you fill the gaps (the weekend comes, that meeting is behind me, I see her/him again, that awkward chat has been completed, I’ve bought that book/dress/chocolate cake) — I am predicting correctly. I have committed myself to unhappiness until then. But what about all the moments in between?
I may feel uncomfortable, now, sitting in the present looking at the boring, waiting room moments between now and happiness. I don’t want the unpleasant, trudging, unfulfilling, now moments to seep into me. So, I resist them; recoil away from them like from a bad smell. Holding my breath until a good bit can come along, I distract myself, buy some chocolate, wasting time on Amazon or Facebook … take your pick.
Here’s the bit that surprises me (every time). There’s magic here. It’s so not-intuitive that each time I try it, I don’t believe it will work.
If only I can accept the boredom, frustration and angst feelings, and welcome them, inhale them and agree with them. “Yes, this is not how I want this moment …but I accept it, welcome it,” (realising like Jacob, that God is here, even here! – though I did not know it). “I will sit here in the hospital waiting room with this moment. I will not look out the window to the future-hoped happiness, but will sit here, now.” To the degree that I can embrace this (varies quite a bit, to be honest), the tensions, boredom, frustration are relieved. I find some measure of peace and presence in the moment. Sometimes, the new groundedness brings with it a new energy, a kind of simple fullness.
The initial decision feels like deciding to drown, your natural faculties will resist it. Breathe, relax, do it anyway. There are a lot of moments between here and there.
And if you see me, remind me, will you?
Paul Buggy is a spiritual director who lives in Dublin Ireland with his wife Kate and their three children aged 19, 16, and 10. You can find out more about Paul at his website Prayer Coach (where this post was originally published) where he indulges his passion for Ignatian Spirituality. He has a particular weakness for helping people who think they can’t pray (i.e. everyone). Oh and also for Toblerones.
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