There is a sticky-stern colon mark sandwiched between two sets of numbers at the top of my computer screen.
The small display of numbers is even less comfortable than a piece of irksome popcorn stuck between my teeth. Its little career for telling time (which I generally appreciate) is now overwhelmingly annoying. Every time the digital display changes it means I have less time to finish the things that I need to complete today. On the other hand, shouldnāt it also feel as though I am that much closer to finishing everything? Maybe, but it doesnāt.
The concept of being in the moment, in the āpresentā, or in the ānowā has both inspired me and reprimanded me for years. The importance of being in the moment appears to be indisputable, but I wonder… Can my relationship to the moment actually be measured? Health is important too, but just because I feel healthy doesnāt mean I am healthy when my thermometer tells me otherwise. So is there a 98.6Ā° for the moment? I know when and if Iām in the moment during sex! Thatās easily measured by the universal āOā degree, but work, play, day-to-day experiences… Is there a thermometer, or something tangible, that can measure my involvement during those moments?
Scientific studies confirm that a specific range of indoor temperatures significantly impacts productivity levels. According to research at Helsinki University of Technology, temperatures between 72Ā° F to 77Ā° F are the most beneficial for productivity in office environments. However, letās say I am working on a chapter in one of my books (as an easy example); the room temperature is 76Ā° F, my fevered, aching body temperature is 101Ā° F. At the same time Iām being distracted by flirty incoming texts, and the anxiety from a self-inflicted at-the-end-of-the-day-deadline for my draft is interfering with my ability to concentrate as that pestering number-sandwich keeps pressing me to hurry up.
The next thing I know, the end of the day has arrived. 6:00 plops into my lap like a sandwich filled with messy peanut butter and marshmallow filling. I use my little mouse to click āsendā and off goes my completed draft via email. I did it! āOuch!ā The light from the setting sun is scratching my tired eyes, reminding me how achy I feel. The āsendā button has never felt better to me.. I am now able to inch my sensitive body towards the shower where soothing lukewarm waters will flow.Ā The refreshing scent of coco butter is caressing me. Afterwards, feather-like jammies comfort me, and my child-like crawl soon follows, rolling me into crisp, white cotton sheets for a much needed nap. My head has sunk into the pillow like a smile set in plump fair cheeks… I am relieved to be freed from the day, but what happened? Had I been āin the momentā this day? Before I answer that, I want to look at this scenario in a different way.
This time letās say Iām working on one of my blogs; room temperature is 76Ā° F. My body temperature is 98.6Ā° F and is rife with energy. Iām responding to flirty incoming texts… and coming up with a few of my own! The anxiety from an externally imposed at-the-end-of-the-day-deadline for my blog has me surfing towards relief near the Internet shores. The digital timekeeper in the corner of my monitor is eyeing me in a way that makes me just want to ignore her and continue enjoying Web waves (lovinā the sale at Neimans by the way!). The next thing I know, the end of the day has arrived. 6:05 is now eyeing me the same way 5:35 did. Iām going to be late with my blog. Iāve already missed the deadline and now Iām hungry. I think Iāll make a little snack with almond butter and toast, and then Iāll get back to work. Instead Iām invited onto the balcony by the orange sherbet sunset for a cup of jasmine green tea. Then, reluctantly (after several spontaneous text messages hot enough to reach the amber-infamous āOā degree and two hours later) I return to my office to finish my blog… done. Itās now close to midnight. My bubble bath has been drawn and I slowly sink into it. Warm milky coco butter melts my limbs into passing time. I am now freed from the day… but then again, when wasnāt I? Hadnāt I been āin the momentā all day?
In both scenarios I finished my writing assignments. In the first scenario I put everything off (including my own comfort) just to make sure I completed a self-imposed deadline. In the second scenario I pleasantly indulged myself in every distraction, and was ultimately late turning-in an assignment that others were waiting for. So, the question is: When was I most in the moment? The other question is: Can it really be measured?
Most of our lives (beginning in early childhood) we are taught to live forward. We are told to eat healthy food because it will help us grow up to be healthy and strong in the future, not because we need the nourishment right now. The same is true for our schooling. We try to get good grades so that we will get a good report card later on, not because the knowledge and accomplishment empowers us now. What about when we enter romantic relationships and unnaturally design our behavior so that our involvement with another person will specifically take us out of the now and into a preconceived future? Isnāt it true that most of us are taught to be āgoodā today because when we pass away we will be rewarded… but what about all of the rewards for the living-today?
There is an old Chinese Proverb that says, āThe best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.ā Iāve always enjoyed the simplicity and implication of this, yet there is another quote by Deepak Chopra which when combined with the above quote seems to complete a powerful truth, āYou and I are essentially infinite choice-makers. In every moment of our existence, we are in that field of all possibilities where we have access to an infinity of choices.ā
So maybe there is a way to measure whether Iām in the moment. Maybe itās not about the conscious real-time calculation of what I am doing or where it is taking me. Maybe measuring the moment is an ironic untouchable tale of results… like the trailing history of mercury filling up the lines in a thermometer from my past. Maybe I had it all backwards. Maybe the only way to get an accurate reading of being in the moment is by refusing to measure the process and the goalposts. Maybe the temperature of my moment (regardless of how Iām passing my time) all comes down to the results I have today. So whether that means a newly published book, a floundering resume, a garden thatās filled with blooming gardenias and roses, or simply having a sense of peace… the measurement is found after the results and not a moment too soon! Either way, tonight Iām falling asleep between crisp white sheets, and the soothing scent of coco butter… How cozy! Whatās your temperature right now?