There are Australian Ibises in the backyard. They walk with long, determined strides, expansive wings tucked neatly into their bodies. Their long, black, curved beaks forage in the loose topsoil, looking for snails and worms. I have seen them – 20 or more – sitting in palm trees, their collective weight bowing the large palm fronds so that they sway and bounce as one bird leaves, or another takes its place. Their feet, long grey toes splayed to spread their weight across the ground, seem unsuitable for palm-frond-perching. Watching birds is an in the moment activity I enjoy.
When I watch birds, my mind is no longer occupied by the cares of the day, nor by plans for the future. To really watch birds, to take notice of what they are doing, I must stay in the moment or I may miss the joy and beauty and surprises that they bring. Birds are easily startled and, so, I must remain still to be able to take in all that is happening. Birds also change their activities quickly – one minute they’re walking across the grass, and the next they’ve taken flight. I must absorb the moment, embrace the present, before it gets lost in the next. But I believe I can learn from birds, from watching them.
Be in the moment rather than dwell in the past
Two things that people do that can cause them pain are dwelling on the past or living for the future.
It is helpful to review the past and learn lessons from it, a process I do regularly especially when an unexpected response is triggered. I encourage my clients to do the same, because the past is a treasure trove of information and power for the future. However, we must not make the past our home, or dwell there.
I have watched as a magpie stands beside a dead mate, which was probably been hit by a passing car. It stands, as if in mourning, for their lost mate. But they don’t stay standing there forever. They have to move to stay alive – to not get hit by a car and to find food. They must come back to the present, embrace the present, to survive.
Be in the moment rather than merely live for the future
I have also noted birds in nesting season, gathering pieces of fabric and tufts of grass to build a nest. They are planning and building for the future, when that nest will hold eggs and hatchlings. But when the nesting season is done, the nest is abandoned as the birds and their young stay in the present – growing, learning to fly and establish themselves as adults. The birds may return to that nest next season, or they may build a new one – depending on their nature – but they are not always preparing for new young.
If we live only for the
future, we can miss the joys of life where we are today – in the present.
Be in the moment by making the most of the circumstances
Another aspect of watching birds is noticing how they make the most of wind currents.If you’v e ever watched seagulls you know how they can hover on sea breezes, and hang suspended before dipping their wings to catch a changing current to take them out over the feeding ground in the ocean. Hawks, eagles and other raptors are expert navigators of the air streams, using them to soar and dive, and to travel long distances with minimal expense of energy. They embrace the present and truly go with the flow!
Birds know how to embrace their current circumstances, to use the air streams that present themselves to reach the goals and targets they are aiming for. Too often, we humans rage against the present, demanding that it be something more to our taste and liking. And yet, if we could learn from the birds, we would be able to embrace the present and allow what is happening right at this moment to empower us. We would find ourselves perhaps in new and unexpected places, but also more at ease and relaxed.
Be in the moment and live life to the full
I have not yet met a person who does not want to live a fulfilled and happy life. However, many of us sabotage that desire by either dwelling on the past, and allowing the experiences there to rob us of joy in the present. Or, we are so focussed on the future, with our plans and ambitions, that we miss the daily joys and surprises. Or, we judge our present circumstances and find them wanting, and allow that judgement to colour our day.
But, we have the choice – each day, each moment. Choose to embrace the present and you may be surprised by what you see.
I would love to hear how you embrace the present. Add your thoughts in the comments below.
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