Living in the now isn’t as easy as it looks

21 Dec

Google living in the now and you’ll find a slew of new-age sounding websites, one of which is actually named Radical Happiness, featuring spiritual teacher Gina Lake, author of several “books of awakening,” including

Living in the Now,

Embracing the Now,

(and in case you have anxiety about the now),

What About Now?

I’m not interested in such jarring happiness today, but thank you.

Less likely to recommend a raw food diet is Psychology Today who gives you six steps to the art of Now. I skimmed the article and it gives good advice but while I dabble in obsessing, I’m pretty good at savoring a moment. Actually, I might oversavor. But that’s another post.

I moved onto this UK Guardian article which claims we are happiest when we are present in the moment, not distracted, not daydreaming. According to a  study in the journal Science, we occupy nearly half of our time focusing on something else other than the current thing we are doing.

Except when we’re having sex. Then we give the task 90% of our attention. So even on the road to orgasm, 10% of the time we still get distracted by something else shinier.

And who told me this? Science. And you should believe science because they get paid just to be educated. That ALMOST makes me want to study science. I opted to pay for an education in words and marry science instead. So far it’s working out. As long as I live in THE NOW. Which I’m good at 90% of time.

My brain is a swirling journey of thoughts: sometimes they dart back and forth so quickly that it makes me dizzy; sometimes they meander through a field with some frolicking thrown in, and sometimes they jolt me awake like shock therapy. There is rarely a time when I’m not thinking something. Specifically overanalyzing something.

How it went. What it meant. What I should have said, done, thought; how I should have breathed, uttered, sighed, blinked, fidgeted differently.

This has been a detriment to parts of my life and something I reluctantly admit to having in common with Elizabeth Gilbert. I was finally making peace with this until I went to link to her website. She uses Comic Sans, and italic Comic Sans at that. How am I supposed to take her seriously now? I was so close, Liz, to being on your side. I still have a love/hate relationship with her memoir. Full disclosure: I ate and prayed with Gilbert, but didn’t get around to finishing the love portion, though do plan to this month. It’s only fair.

While I’ve been on the road to recovery from overanalysis for a couple of years now, I still struggle to live in the now as much as I’d like to.  I worry for example when the now will be over. And when it is, how will I adapt? What will I do when the euphoria ends? I’m often so busy preparing myself for the waning of happiness that I forget to consider it might be here to stay. Not every second. Not every day. But for the rest of my life.

Aaron and I get along extremely well. Too well, I feared. I kept waiting for that time when the dream would die. Then we read in The Five Love Languages that the honeymoon period lasts for two years. So we have exactly one year and eight months before we look at each other in disgust and dream of a better life.

Until then I’m pretty sure you hate us.

When we moved from Virginia to Florida, Aaron bought us matching “Virginia is for Lovers” aprons. As if that wasn’t barf-worthy enough, I baked a flippin’ pie.

My first pie: strawberry rhubarb. I don't even recognize myself here: Imposter!

I realize our circumstances are different : we moved 900 miles away from everyone we know. So at first, quite literally, we had only each other. So it was easier to be this gross.

I know plenty of women who define themselves by their food; however, I am not one of them.  I’m competent in the kitchen but if that’s all we’re measuring me by then better-than-average casserole it is!

But humility aside, that pie was damn good.

To keep things in perspective, here is something else that happened once we got married. This was Aaron on our wedding day:

And this was Aaron three months AFTER our wedding:

Do you think he’s trying to tell me something?

Someone’s been embracing too much of the now.

The very day this photo was taken we both got haircuts and Aaron shaved his beard for the first time since the wedding.

Hello, Michael Keaton's doppelganger

Shorter on the sides (Miami style)

The point of all these photos is to show what can happen when you go too far with this idea of “living in the now.”

If you take Aaron’s example, you could become a bear from the 70’s. If you take my example though, living in the now can stress you out. Right now I’m unsettled; I enjoy my new job but it’s tough making a new world for myself after being so deeply entrenched in my old one. If I fixate on the uncertainty of even whether or not I’ll have a job next year, I’ll never get past this. I have to both live in the now (and make it better, bit by bit), and look forward as to not drown in the disassociation one feels after being uprooted from a warm cocoon and thrown into an ice bath. It keeps getting warmer here, but when it’s still chilly I have to imagine the warmth; if I fixate on what happens in the imperfect moments, I’ll never survive.

And you know what Science has to say about survival of the fittest.

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11 Responses to “Living in the now isn’t as easy as it looks”

  1. EE December 21, 2010 at 4:13 am #

    Dude, this is one of the best blogs I’ve ever read. Seriously.

  2. Seleta December 21, 2010 at 1:32 pm #

    ‘they meander through a field with some frolicking thrown in’ and ‘could become a bear from the70’s’. LOVE IT! seriously though, i totally can relate to the whole post. i often overanalyze (especially while cooking, for me) and find myself constantly ‘planning’ for what may happen next, and when will that next thing happen?!?! lovely blog…i look forward to reading every time. 🙂

    • Kara December 21, 2010 at 5:01 pm #

      I was a bit wary of the frolicking bit, glad it worked for you, Seleta!

  3. Catherine December 21, 2010 at 2:13 pm #

    (Note: This will probably be is an obnoxiously long comment.) I’m horrible about living in the now, especially since I stopped teaching. Probably because I’m completely unsure about what’s coming next, so it’s all I can think about. Except when I’m crafting or cooking a new recipe. I know you’re not a crafter, but I feel like that kind of stuff requires all of my attention, so I’m not daydreaming (or daymaring) about the future. It’s such a satisfying feeling. I remember in high school when my long-term relationship broke up, I was devestated, and I couldn’t think about anything else. Strangely, Calculus transformed from my most hated class to one I sort of maybe looked forward to, since it required all of my attention, and I couldn’t think about my broken heart. Do I need something like that to keep me in the here and now??

    Regarding Elizabeth Gilbert, I think I was one of the only people who loved all of EPL. I’m impressed you got through Pray though, as that seems to be where most of my friends tossed it. I refuse to go to her website though, because the italic comic sans would pain me to look at. Perhaps if you watched you might be able to rebuild some of your respect for her. It was a pretty decent talk.

    What did you think of The Five Love Languages? I’m glad you read it regardless!

  4. Catherine December 21, 2010 at 2:18 pm #

    Hahaha… I tried so hard to get that link right. Even simple HTML is beyond me.

    It should say, Perhaps if you watched “her TED talk” you might be able to rebuild…. With the link being those three words, not the entire remainder of the comment.

    Also, *devastated.

    Aaaand, I think I’ve sufficiently embarrassed myself for today. Thankyouandgoodnight.

  5. Kara December 21, 2010 at 3:21 pm #

    Catherine, you are too funny. I did manage to get past the font to watch the TED talk and it’s good–I’m not down on her; she has some great insights in that book, but there’s just something about it I can’t fully get behind yet. Will report on how I feel once I finish Love–that’s where all the balance comes in.

    • Kara December 21, 2010 at 3:40 pm #

      Oh and yes, we enjoyed *The Five Love Languages* but like many things, we didn’t finish it yet. Still have the last couple of chapters left. Still not sure which of 2 languages I am.

      • Catherine December 21, 2010 at 4:59 pm #

        I think you can be two. Actually, Eric and I generally list all five, in the order of personal preference. Physical touch, for example, definitely doesn’t top my list, but it’s not like it never makes me feel loved.

  6. Katharine December 21, 2010 at 6:06 pm #

    I wish I’d known you better in high school. I can identify with so much of what you write about (and you write about it really, REALLY well)!

    • Kara December 21, 2010 at 11:11 pm #

      Thanks, Katharine, likewise! Feel free to share your own insights: blogs are supposed to be conversations but sometimes people are lazy. 🙂

  7. Dana December 21, 2010 at 11:02 pm #

    Some people focus on Now, others on Later, but not many achieve the harmony of both. (As a side note, I’ve never actually had Now and Later candy…have you?) I’m definitely a Later gal, a pro at planning for the future and delaying gratification. While that’s great for retirement planning, it doesn’t make for the happiest life. So, like you, I’m trying to be more Now by being more spontaneous. And staying up past 10 pm.
    On another topic, I have not read EPL, but I am also guilty of using comic sans, so perhaps Gilbert and I have a kinship. My husband and I did read the 5 Love Languages. It was a gift from a couple who were trying to fix their marriage with books. That didn’t work so well, but the book gave us a reason why our marriage does. By the way, I think marriage gets better after two years…it’s something that you can enjoy Now and Later! (I seriously need to try this candy.) Keep writing! I miss you.

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