Being present is all the rage these days.
Sure, one could argue that the monks in the Tibetan mountains have been practicing the art of living in the moment for thousands (?) of years, but very few people — Leonard Cohen and Jack Kornfield exempt — would consider anything cloaked silent types do on a regular basis to be “the rage.”
It seems that wellness has become mainstream, though, and there is no denying this is a magnificent thing. I am so proud to be a part of a generation where people look at you with pity and slight shock if you aren’t a yoga/spin class/marathon/spirit/quinoa junky. I drink the Kool-Aid all day and all night. How can I better myself? What do I do today to improve on yesterday? How can I become more enlightened? I want that Gabrielle Bernstein glow, baby.
But boy do I ever suck at being present.
For a while I thought I was doing all right — I was even mindful eating, whatever that means — but then I got a manicure.
I like to get a manicure once a month because I feel like if my nails look good, the rest of me doesn’t have to. It’s a pointless expense that I’ve decided is important to me. Now, the whole ordeal these days is actually quite painful. I’ve been trying to track down a nail artist for years who was going to give me the Legally Blonde experience, but so far it’s just a lot of guff about my cuticles and mild torture. The UV lamp they make me place my freshly gelled nails under burns, and is probably giving me early age spots.
Why, you say. Just paint them yourself, you say. No — because the hand massage at the end makes all the teasing and all the pain and all the carcinogenic lamp light completely worth it.
The issue then becomes the conversation I have in my head when the massage begins. That feels great! Don’t stop! Oh man, you’re going to stop any second aren’t you? Please don’t. I really need this today. Is this going to be the last three seconds? At least you still have the other hand to do. Oh shoot, we’re on hand number two, is this going to be a thirty second massage or a ninety? Please make it a ninety....
By the time the hand massage is over I don’t even remember getting it.
It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it when it was happening, it’s just that I was so busy concerning myself with how disappointed I was going to be when it ended that I never allowed myself to get carried away in the pleasure. You might say I took the pleasure out of the situation by anticipating my lack-of-pleasure in the near future. My Buddhist monk friends are rolling over in their fully-content graves.
It’s a sad, sad day when we pay for a service we can’t even relish in (like, for example, the dentist — tres sad).
I don’t know how to start being more mindful. Sure, I could swish my Pellegrino around in my mouth for an extra ten seconds to try and feel more of the fizz and taste the temperature of the Italian sun, but that’s not going to happen — especially if I’m parched.
These days, we don’t make time to live in the moment. If our pleasure doesn’t begin and end on a schedule of our liking, we won’t see pleasure at all.
I’d like to take a brief moment to tell you what I learned in University: Marshall McLuhan once preached, “the medium is the message,” meaning how we communicate is more important that what we communicate.
I’d now like to bring it home: Andria Parker once declared, “the massage is the message,” meaning what we experience is far more important than how long we experience it for.
That’s where I’m going to try and start, anyway.
— Andria Parker is a 20-something blogger from Kamloops