This past Saturday my dear friend Renee’s daughter became a Bat Mitzvah. 

Renee has been one of the strong and steady people in our lives–there for Max and I in a quiet but ever present way.  When I was struggling through the first few weeks of motherhood, Renee invited me to her house and fed me gourmet meals, enticing me to get out of my pajamas and back into the world of the living.  In the horrible months right after Juan moved out she invited us to her house and fed us.  We sat at her Passover table and breathed through the prayers, the questions, the stories and she held my hand under the table each time my breath got shaky.  Just a few months ago when we went to a wedding in Massachussetts and I wanted to stay up and dance all night, it was Renee who bundled Max up and took him to bed, who read him stories so that I could experience joy.    Renee has been a friend who has been a witness to the most poignant moments in our life.

I was so charmed and touched when Renee invited us to this special day for her youngest girl.  This was not a huge gathering and I felt honored to be included.  When she handed me the invitation back in November I immediately said yes. 

I started thinking ahead to that day–What would I wear? What lovely gift would we bring her precious child?  My head was spinning so far into the future–thinking of this day.  My future-focused head was busy with all the preparations.

So where was I on Saturday?  I was nowhere.  Nowhere to be seen. 

For the last several months I have been so focused on the future–whats coming next, hopping over hurdles and fast forwarding onto the next blissful event:  my party, the holidays, some trips I have planned , my wonderful new year and how it would surely play out all flowery and blossomy.  No sooner was I in a moment, was I immediately planning what joyful thing would happen next, next, next!

 While my head was dreaming of the future, I have done a terrible job of keeping track of the present.   Alot has fallen by the wayside.  The past couple of months, insurance claims have not  been submitted.  A bill or two has been paid late.  I got a bad cold and slept not nearly enough.

And then the Bat Mitzvah.  I lost the invitation in a car that needed to be cleaned.  I got mixed up on the date.  I asked Renee but didn’t listen carefully, didn’t write it down right away, had moved on to the next item on my to do list.  I wrote it in my calendar wrong.  I told myself it was next Saturday.  In the future…like everything else in my life.  Happening sometime soon.

I was so far ahead of myself, I didn’t question why Renee was out of work last week instead of this one.  I just assumed she was taking advantage of the end of a short work week to make preparations final.  I kept plowing ahead, unaware, unattentive.  No pause.  No breath.  Instead of being now here–I was nowhere.

And I missed it.  I missed sweet Hannah’s ceremony.  I missed the party my dear friend had so carefully planned.  The special event she had called us to attend.  She had asked me to be present–to be a witness to the magic of her girl growing up.  And I was nowhere.

Sometimes the Universe just has to hit me over the head with a very heavy club. 

Last week, the amazing Jena wrote this post about the difference between nowhere and now here being a simple small space, pause, a breath, a moment to be present.  In this post she quotes Sue Monk Kidd’s Firstlight:

Someone pointed out to me that the words now, here, and nowhere have the same arrangement of letters, but differ when a small space is inserted. Likewise a fine space separates us from experiencing our life as nowhere or now here.

Attentiveness is entering fully the moment you are currently in, no matter how hassling or mundane, and simply being present with it.

“Ah yes”  I said.  The words resonated with me.  They made sense.  They settled into my heart even while my head was spinning-on fast forward ever still.  Skipping the pause.  I missed it even as I got it.

This morning, before the sun rose, before I realized my mistake, before another friend told me that I had missed the blessed event, I was taking a long walk, a walk I am now taking most mornings.  This long walk is part of my plan to get to a healthy weight.  The last few times this walk has been an exercise in speedwalking into the future.  I walk and I immediately start praising myself for getting up so so early and think I proud I will feel when I have done it all week!  I start thinking about how come spring how healthy and strong I will be!  I walk and I am thinking about bathing suits and feeling good in them again, about sitting in pools and jacuzzis, about sexy little sundresses. 

I caught myself this morning–half way into the walk–when I realized I didn’t even notice much of what I had seen, had missed the birds, the change in the sky.  Somewhere out of the buzz that was in my brain, Jena’s words, Sue Monk Kidd’s words stopped me cold in my tracks. 

Now here…nowhere…Now here. 

One fine space.  A pause.  A breath. 

What had I missed on my walk while I was focused on how beautiful the future would be?  I thought about how I couldn’t get that bit back.  Those moments where I was lost in planning a future that may or may play out–those precious moments were gone.

I thought back to a time when life was falling apart.  When being present, when living in the now wasn’t a choice.  It was the only way to survive.   In the days and weeks after Juan announced he was leaving, in the months after he had moved out I was anchored in the present because it was all I could take.  When I allowed myself to think of our past, I fell apart on the spot, tears flowing, the grief of all we had lost overwhelming.  When I started to think of the future, of the next hour, next week, next month without him I was so terrified, so paralyzed I couldn’t breathe.  The only thing I could do was get through this minute in front of me, this breath, now the next one, and the one after that.  It was a gift that came from the pain, this mindfulness, this practice.  But it is one I have packed away, like a forgotten wedding present.  A once cherished treasure now shoved over to the side in the chaos of life.

Last night, as I was logging on to check my email, Max came and sat on my lap.  “Mama,” he said “Read to me.”  “In a minute babe…Mom’s just got to do this one thing.”  His answer was strong and clear.  “No mom…NOW.  I am tired.”  Yes.  In a few minutes he would be asleep.  The moment to read would be gone.  The email could keep.  “OK” I said, much to his surprise.  He was emboldened. 

“Mom, you are on the computer too much.  You need to stop.  You need to be with me.  Now.  I am grounding you from the computer–at least while I am awake.”  “Yes” I said.  “That would be fine”.  From the mouths of babes…

Tonight at yoga class, as if to drive it home, my teacher was guiding us through an opening meditation.  Before asking us to set our intentions she asked us to be aware of the thoughts, the plans, the worries that were buzzing around our brains.  She invited us to put them in a box in the hall and to be present.  To be in the now.  To be here. 

And I did.  I finally did.  I was there through each uncomfortable stretch, through each difficult balance, through each impossibly difficult move to build core strength.  And when my mind began to wander I reminded myself that each breath was a chance to begin again. 

Each breath calling me out of nowhere and into the now here.

7 Responses to “Now here”

  1. Jena Strong Says:

    Oh, Meg. You nailed it. The autopilot, the nowhere. Missing Hannah’s bat mitzvah was your bell, Max is your bell ringing loud and clear and piercing through the noise, the fast future. I, too, should be grounded from the computer when my kids are at my side, calling for me through my “just this one thing.” How we all keep learning to slow down.

    Hope your day is filled with moments of now and here and noticing and love for yourself.

    xo Jena

  2. Jen Ballantyne Says:

    Meg, this is one of the most poignant, beautiful pieces I have read from you, it jumped off the screen at me and shouted “I am back”, go girl, my you can write and my you are filled with wisdom I am in awe of your talent in putting into words these thoughts. Just brilliant and I feel the power in it so clearly. Like you and Jena, I also need to listen to my child and stop the “just this one thing”.

    This post triggered in me the same reaction I had the first time I read your blog, it blew me away, it stayed with me, it resonated, it reached me deep inside, I’d find myself thinking about your words as I traveled through my day. I love the ‘nowhere, now here’ connection from Jena, she is so wise, I am humbled by the wisdom and talent of both of you. Take care my dear and thank you for writing this. xxx piece.

  3. Karen Says:

    The good thing, there’s a never-ending supply of now. You never run out of chances to wake up. And then wake up again.

  4. bella Says:

    Wow.
    What an inspiring post.
    I know that feeling, when you forget and lose things and realize it is life telling you to wake up and be here. Now.
    And you heard and are listening. This is what matters.
    We always get chances, again and again, each moment really, to just be here in the present and notice. Thank-you for reminding me. I cannot hear it enough.

  5. Jena Strong Says:

    Meg –

    Come on over for a token of my gratitude for your words.

    xo Jena

  6. Chloe Says:

    Just popping over from Jena’s blog to say “hi.” This is a beautiful post and a great reminder. Thanks.

  7. A break in our regularly scheduled programming - Meg Casey Says:

    […] want to take a break from my discussions about now, and life and magic and parenting and soul sisters and all that to simply say: These guys […]