Last November, I was sitting at a bar with two friends, telling them about my plans for 2015. I announced that I would be completely sober for an entire year. They both looked at me in disgust and asked “why?”. As I sipped on my very large glass of Shiraz, I explained to them that I wanted to be more present in my life. I wanted to remember the nights I go out and the things I talk about and the people I meet. I was sick of walking around in a blur, which is what most of 2014 felt like to me. Fast forward to October 2015. I’m 286 days sober, and I just started to figure out what being present really means.
If you’ve been following this blog, you know I’ve struggled with anxiety/depression for basically my entire life. I’ve always been so consumed by the pain from my past and the anticipation of my future, that I’ve very rarely been in the moment, or in the “now” as my new BFF Eckhart Tolle would say. I preach about being grateful, but that’s hard to do when you’re constantly focused on why that guy broke you’re heart six months ago or wondering when you’re going to get that big career break you’ve been dreaming about for nine years. I’m learning that nothing new can come into your life if you can’t be grateful for what you already have, and you can’t be grateful for what you have if you don’t stop to look at it in the moment.
I’ve been reading books and really trying to practice this “present” mentaility for the last few weeks, and I really got to put it to the test this past weekend.
On Saturday night, I found myself in a desert just outside of Las Vegas with 20,000 other people lighting paper lanterns and watching them float up into the sky. There are no words, pictures, or videos that will do it justice. This kind of thing has to be experinced first-hand to fully understand the magic, but bear with me while I do my best to find the words.
When you walk into the festival, you’re given a yoga mat to sit on, two paper lanterns, and a pen. I wrote two different things on my lanterns. On the first, I made a wish, and I’m not going to tell you what I wished for because then it won’t come true. On the second lantern, I wrote a letter to someone that I love. At around 9pm, the announcer told everyone to get ready to launch. We started to light our lanterns (which is WAY harder than you think it’d be), and two minutes later the sky lit up. Thousands and thousands of lanterns started floating into the air. I watched my lanterns go up with the rest and couldn’t help but just stand there and cry. I’ve never felt more grounded in my entire life. I felt my toes in the sand and the wind on my face and I smelled the flames coming from the lanterns and heard the music coming from the stage and my heart felt completley full. I was at ease, I was peaceful, I was completely present.
Getting a taste of being present, has only made me want more of that feeling. I’ve been checking in with myself a lot more lately. I’m reading “The Power of Now” and Mr. Tolle says to be in the now, observe your thoughts, don’t judge them, don’t try to change them, just observe them, and once you do that, you elminate what he refers to as the “ego”, the unconscious mind, and you are living in your consciousness and in the Now. I highly reccommend the read for anyone looking to be a little more present.
My hope is that the rest of this year will give “Present-ly Sober” an entirely new meaning, but for now, I’ll focus on the now.