lessons learned from a week away
26 reasons to celebrate friendship

a rain-soaked realization: are you living in YOUR moment?

 



"Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in..."

Natasha Bedingfield


Living In the Moment

Yesterday there was a loud, fierce thunderstorm late in the afternoon. Though the day had been much too hot and humid, the storm caught me off guard and I found myself standing out on my balcony, squinting up in vague confusion at the overcast sky as the raindrops pelted down, plummeting from the clouds. Much like the image above, I stretched out my arms and felt the raindrops, warm and wet, hitting the undersides of my arms, my palms. It was a luscious, summery feeling. It was a rare moment for me to reach out and willingly feel the rain. I -- the girl always dashing quickly inside or hurriedly opening an umbrella at the first droplet of water -- was standing there, arms outstretched, actually enjoying the fall of rain, the way the drops hit my skin quickly, one after another after another, as if it were a race to see which of them could collide with the world first. I appreciated their warmth, a sure sign of a summer storm that would soon be ending. I appreciated the urgency of them, the way they fell so fast and so frequently that within moments my open palms were dripping. Had I been wearing an elastic band around my wrist like the girl in the image above, it most certainly would have been soaked. It was coming down that hard and there I was, in a very rare and un-Dani-like moment, just taking it in, looking up at the sky, at the clouds, and feeling the rain on my skin. I couldn't help but notice just how in the moment I was. I was there, really feeling it, and, in spite of my lasting and quite serious dislike of rain, I was enjoying that moment. In fact, I loved it. A summer shower, a balcony, wet palms and wrist, and a little dog at my feet, looking up at me with a mixed expression of confusion and discontent.


The Multiple Meanings of a Moment

How odd, I realized in that moment when I looked down at the expression on my pup's face, it must be not to understand what thunder is! How unnerving it must be to hear such a sound and have not only no concept of what it is, but also to have no way of understanding that it's okay (as children often have when they're reassured by their parents). Looking at my dog, her little face turned up to mine, I realized that a moment can consist of so many things. Of course there was me in the rain (or, rather, my arms in the rain; let's not get carried away because there's pretty much no way I'd be out in a rainstorm without a very good reason). There was the rain itself, having its own moment as if it were battling the world. And then, of course, there was the dog and her moment. Just on the verge of shaking, unsure whether or not the loud, booming noise of thunder would strike again, little Bella the dog stood there, looking up at me, worry and wonder on her fur-covered face. Using warm-as-the-rain tones and words I knew she knew (like "it's okay" and "good girl"), I did what I could to quell her fears, but there is only so much you can communicate when you don't speak the same language.


Letting Go of Your Moment

In this moment, trying as I had been for five years of rainstorms to tell her that it was okay, I realized that sometimes things are better left unsaid. Some things are too difficult to communicate with words. Instead, I wiped my wet wrists, palms, and forearms on my T-shirt, bent down, and scooped that pup up. She placed her head on my shoulder as I slid the glass door shut, safe and dry inside of my apartment. I realized that one's moment of pleasure might be another's moment of terror. To comfort another was worth giving up on that moment of joy, that brief period of standing there, rain-soaked and smiling, on the balcony. While I sat with Bella on my lap for the next half an hour -- until the thunder finally wandered off and her pinned-back ears eased up once again to a more relaxed position -- I realized just how much it probably meant to her, to be sitting on my lap, in a place of safety, while the odd and unexplained noises carried on outside. It made me think a lot about how each moment can mean so much (or so little) for someone and how that very same moment in time can pass by virtually unnoticed by others.


No One Else Can Feel It For You

As Natasha Bedingfield sings in "Unwritten" (I know, I can't help but think The Hillsevery time I hear the song, which is playing in my head almost every time it rains), no one else can be in your moment. Every moment is there, waiting for you, but no one can ever feel it the way that you can. Take, for example, the situation with Bella and I. It was the same moment, the same minutes ticking past as we stood on the balcony, side by side. But what was similar about our moments? Very little. She was terrified, her fear mounting every time the thunder boomed in the distance. I was happy, relishing in a rare moment of present-ness as the rain fell on my skin. Same moment, yet so different. Experiencing this with her, looking at her reactions and feeling my own, I learned a lot. I learned...

... that we all can react to the very same moment in completely different ways.

... that no one can tell you -- or should tell you -- how a moment should make you feel.

... that sometimes you have to let go of your own moment and fall into someone else's.

... that you should pay attention not only to your reactions but to the reactions of others.

... that transforming a moment for the sake of another can make it the very best moment of all.

They were transformative, those minutes sitting there on the couch with Bella and realizing all of this. It wasn't until much later in the evening, after the rain had stopped, that I realized how important this was, how much it meant. Over the past few months I've spent so much time trying to focus on the present, to live in the moment, and it was a revelation to realize the meaning of a moment, to realize the multiple meanings of a moment, and to recognize that there is a time for selfishly indulging whole heartedly in my own moments and there is a time for realizing that there are others sharing in the same moment, feeling perhaps very differently from the way I feel. I will never say that living in the moment isn't ideal. I firmly believe that living in the moment is essential to getting the most out of life. What I'm thinking about now -- and would love to hear your opinions on -- is how different a single moment can be and how important it is not only to live in our own moments but to recognize the moments of others as well. Being present doesn't have to mean being selfish. Being present means being aware, not only of yourself and the moments you're living, but of the moments of others as well.


Do you find that you're aware of the moments others are experiencing?
How often to realize the differences between your moment and another's?
Do you ever feel as if you are forsaking your own moments for the satisfaction of others?



Comments

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I find that I am often living in others' moments, that it is hard (scary?) to live completely alone in my own moments. But so needed. And when I am there - all alone, by myself, fully in the moment - it is the most joyous occasion. How to practice mindfulness in everyday moments and not yearn to experience moments outside of my own - due to being frustrated with or scared of myself - is my greatest (current) struggle.

Kudos on your blog. I just started reading and I love it!

I really enjoyed this post - it's a lot different from your previous posts. The thought never occurred to me to be aware of others' moments, or to be in theirs. And so I really feel this is a valuable lesson. I've been very caught up in my own moments, and I'd been wondering why I felt so out of it! I think that this is the reason - I haven't been considering the fact that we all share our moments. Thank you, Dani!

Dani,

It took me good long while to realize that my feelings are my feelings and that I was no longer going to allow someone less smarter than me (when it comes to my feelings) tell me how I should or should not feel in any given moment.

Things I find funny, others may not.
Things I find beautiful, others may not.
Things I feel as good, others may not.
Things I feel as not so good, others may not.
Things that don't bother me, may make others uncomfortable.

My youngest daughter's greatest joy is to shred down a mountain in fresh powder on her snow board...not my cup of tea...but I very much appreciate how she feels in her moment!

WOW! I needed to read this. And I am so glad I did :)

Ash - That's a very interesting point, that it can be scary to live only in your own moment, but sometimes it can be really amazing to be completely mindful. What can be equally amazing is when you can be mindful of both your own moment and the moments of others -- something I've recently just given thought to.

Ia - Thank you! I just started writing last night and this is what came out. I know it's different (and not necessarily what the readers really want -- which is shorter/bulleted posts), but it was really important for me to write this and I'm so glad that you enjoyed reading it. It was a revelation for me to realize that we all share moments and that just living in our own moment isn't necessarily enough.

Peggy - It's taken me a long time to realize that too. I love what you wrote in your comment because all of those things are so true. We feel the way we feel and no one can or should take that away from us. Great example about your daughter and how one person's favorite thing is not necessarily another's.

Michelle - Yay! :) I'm so glad you read it and connected with it. It makes me happy to know that you left the post feeling glad that you'd read it.

It's interesting about moments. I glory in a wild storm and miss them fiercely now that we've left Florida. But I know lots of people who are afraid of thunder. The event is the exactly the same.

My favorite example of this is something I read one time (I forget where) that was talking about a roller-coaster. If two friends ride together, but one loves the thrill and the other is scared to death, then they have two very different experiences! I always try to carry that with me when I am interacting with people, because it helps me try to understand their position. If I can keep myself in their perspective, I can relate to them better, I feel.

But I think I like your imagery better! ;)

> "No one else can feel it for you Only you can let it in..."
That's a perfect quote.

It reminds me that the answer to the question, who's making your angry or happy or sad, the answer is always, you are.

I think one of the deepest examples of this is when somebody is "inconsolable."

What a cool story. It really is interesting how one moment, circumstance or experience can mean a completely different thing to different people (or pooches!).

I find the same goes for what you say, both written and spoken - what you write/say can have quite different meanings and perspectives for people.

I LOVE storms. We get them almost daily here in summer.

Hayden - So true! One person's favorite thing can be another's worst nightmare, which is why, though it's so important to experience your own moments fully, it's also so important to be aware of others' moments.

Jay - Thanks for sharing that example here, Jay. That's exactly the point I was trying to make (though I did it in a much more round about way, haha). We can do the exact same thing as someone else and feel completely differently about it and it's important to keep that in mind.

J.D. - Great point about the emotions! You make yourself happy or sad or angry or whatever. We often like to blame outside forces or people, but we always have the power to choose how we want to feel.

Sami - That's a very good point about writing/speaking too. You can say something and it sounds completely different to someone else and it's so important to remember this when communicating with others. It's taken me a long time to learn that, but now that I'm aware of it, it makes me a lot better at communicating and being understanding when others don't get what it is that I'm trying to say.

Hi Dani .. I thought you were going to show us a pic of England in the rain! Dogs' hearing is much more sensitive than ours .. so you did the right thing comforting and protecting her, til the worst was over: they do hate loud noise - like fireworks too.

It's just amazing how little things can suddenly make us think differently, or how we just realise where we're at .. another realisation that we're all different .. and we should appreciate each other's life: difficult sometimes!

Good to have you back ..
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Love the picture.

Noone else can do it for you. So true! Others can give us pointers, but transformation and insight can only happen in us, by us.

Thanks for a great article.

What a beautiful post. Tender, touching, and inspirational.
I find that I sometimes worry about how others are experiencing moments, inasmuch as I want them to be enjoying certain ones as well as I do. My boyfriend, for example, has (what I affectionately call) ants in his pants. He's always on the go, and has a short attention span. Therefore while I could while away the hours conferring with the flowers and be in BLISS, he'd be bored after a minute.
I'm trying to balance that, and not let how he's experiencing a moment disturb how I'm experiencing it, or vice versa.
Easier said than done! Thanks for this thought-provoking write-up.

Hilary - Nope, I was thinking about the American rain, though there was plenty of it when I was in England as well. Good point about dogs' hearing. They're definitely more sensitive than we are and they have no concept of what thunder really is. It is pretty amazing how a little thing -- in this case, a thunderstorm -- can make us see things differently!

Kaushik - It's a great picture, isn't it? When I found it I knew it was perfect for this post. You're so right about transformation and this post is a perfect example of that. No one can actually feel it for you. It's all up to you.

Megan - Thank you! You've made a great point in your comment. It's so important to be aware of others' moments and to recognize the similiarities AND differences between us. Sometimes we experience things so differently and that's not a bad thing. As my cousin kept saying to me when I was in England and kept thinking British things were weird: "It's not weird; it's different." We are all different and sometimes it's not easy to deal with, but it's a great first step to at least pay attention to others and how they're experiencing the world.

What a great post! It is nice to read about other people's experiences in the moment.

I think it's a great point about looking at moments from another person's point of view. That's not just relevant to the moment, it's relevant to life in general!

Kaizan - Thank you! It's definitely so important to look at the world from others' points of view as well as our own and that's a great point about how it's relevant to both the moment AND to life in general!

Dani, you can be totally present whatever you are doing. I love the picture and the song too :-)

Stephen - I try! Now that I'm working on being present, however, I've come across the notion that I need to be present of the moments as other people perceive them as well. It's tricky finding a balance! I'm glad you like the picture/song. :)

Reflecting is so important to me because it helps me remember where I came from and how far I've come. It also helps me appreciate the blessings that God has given me.

Having said that, I rarely allow my past to decide my reaction in the moment or my decisions in that moment.

It's like being in a relationship, getting your heart broken, and then not trusting the next person you are interested in because of what happened.

In that scenario, the past event made the decision, not you. I can't imagine living my life like that.

To tie this into your post, this attitude allows me to live in the moment of others with much more abandonment. I feel as though I can help others more if I can be in their moments. If I can share in what they are feeling.

Before I wrote a post on starting conversations, I visited a Social Anxiety group to share in their moments before meeting a stranger. That post is one of my most popular and I think it is in part due to me sharing in that groups moments of anxiety.

What a fantastic post! Thanks for letting me share my ideas on your blog :)


If and when I realize that I'm not living in the moment, I take time to step back, unplug, recharge and get back into it. Life has a way of distracting us, there's nothing wrong with taking a step back every once in a while to regroup.

Ralph - Thank you so much for your comment! You brought up so many great points that I don't even know where to start in responding. :) Like you, I believe reflecting on life (and the moments that make up a life) is so important. You have to take the moments, learn from them, but not let the past moments get in the way of your present (great example with the relationship analogy!). As you note, it's important to be aware of others' moments and to try to share in what they are feeling. I've never heard of a Social Anxiety group before but the concept is really interesting to me because now that I've stopped drinking I find it a lot harder to be social. I'll have to check out the post you wrote about your experience with the group. Thank YOU for sharing your ideas here. It was great to read your feedback!

Ricardo - I try to do that as well. The more I'm conscious of trying to live in the moment, the more I am able to realize when I'm not, to take a step back and say to myself, "Hey, how can I be more in this moment?" You've made a great point about stepping back and regrouping. Life is filled with distractions (as are our minds) and I think the regrouping idea is a great one. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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