Provision #150: Am I Here?

LifeTrek Provision

With this LifeTrek Provision I begina 10-question series. These questions are designed as reflection questions,suitable for meditation or for any time they may come to mind. As a runner, Ifind these questions appropriate for the long run. This morning I did 22 milesalong with a couple of friends in the Hocking Hills. Once again, like mymarathon in Las Vegas, the experience was sensational • made all the moreattractive by our “summer in February,” with temperatures in the mid-70sFahrenheit.

Several times I found myselfrunning and pondering the simple question, which leads off this series, “Am Ihere?” The answer seems obvious. “Of course I’m here, where else could I be?”But the most obvious can often be the most profound.

“Am I here?” At one of ourwater stops, one of my running buddies looked up and said, “Look at thosehawks. No, wait; there are two different kinds of birds soaring on the winds.There are two turkey vultures and three hawks.” We all looked up and enjoyed thesight of perfect freedom, perfect harmony, perfect collaboration between natureand animal. “There’s another hawk, way up high,” I pointed out. “I’ve alwayshad a thing for hawks,” my friend said.

My friend’s “thing” was to bethere, in the present moment, noticing and appreciating the situation for whatit was: perfect. Clearly it’s the only situation that I am in; how I choose torelate to that situation will make it more or less perfect for me and for theothers who are in it with me. Runners know exactly what I am talking about. Youcan run with tunnel vision, keeping your eyes focused on a point about 20 feetin front of you, or you can run with 360-degree vision, seeing the point aswell all the other sights, sounds, smells, and sensations.

What kind of “runner” are you?I’m no longer talking about a footrace, but about the race of life. As you wakeup in the morning, as you get ready to go out, as you eat your meals, as youare with family and friends, as you go about your business, as you relax andplay, as you sleep through the night • what kind of person are you? Do you havetunnel vision or 360-degree vision? Are you really in the moment, taking in allthat it has to offer, both positive and negative? Or are you just going throughthe motions of another day?

Jon Kabat-Zinn has written awonderful book on this subject entitled, Wherever You Go, There You Are (Hyperion • New York, 1994). Allow me to quote a few paragraphs. “Guess what?When it comes right down to it, wherever you go, there you are. Whatever youwind up doing, that’s what you’ve wound up doing. Whatever you’re thinkingright now, that’s what’s on your mind. Whatever has happened to you, ithas already happened. The important question is, how are you going to handleit? In other words, •Now what?'”

“Like it or not, this moment isall we really have to work with. Yet we all too easily conduct our lives as ifforgetting momentarily that we are here, where we already are, and thatwe are in what we are already in. In every moment, we find ourselves atthe crossroads of here and now.”

“To allow ourselves to be trulyin touch with where we already are, no matter where that is, we have got topause in our experience long enough to let the present moment sink in; longenough to actually feel the present moment, to see it in its fullness,to hold it in awareness and thereby come to know and understand it better. Onlythen can we accept the truth of this moment of our life, learn from it, andmove on” (pages xiii-xiv).

“Am I here?” That’s a questionworth asking. “Am I here?” Ask yourself that question when you’re in a meeting.Look at the people with sacred eyes. Love them. See them for who and what theyare. Ask yourself that question when you arrive home or at a social gathering.What’s happening? How can I fit in and lend my voice (rather than barge orshrink in)? Ask yourself that question when you coach your child or caress yourpartner. Am I here? Am I really here? Or is my mind a million milesaway? As a focal point, this question can totally transform your relationshipto the present moment, to yourself, and to everyone and everything else. Icommend it to your consideration.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC