I like walking. This love of walking began in childhood when, on family holidays, my parents and siblings and I would trek around the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. We explored the Giant’s Staircase and walked the miles to the Ruined Castle and back. As I took those walks I was learning, although I didn’t know it at the time, that being in the present moment, and embracing the present, was a way to love being in your own skin.
Being in your own skin makes memories
I have some very sharp clear memories of those walks – of slipping on the scree on the side of the mountain, and of sitting atop a pinnacle barely a meter wide and looking out over the Megalong Valley towards Mount Solitary.
Then there’s the walk through Parachilna Gorge in the Flinders Ranges, South Australia, with my not-yet fiancé, our hands swollen from the heat and yet needing to have fingers interlaced as we walked the last few kilometres back to the bus. Or walking to school at the top of the street – a short walk but such a milestone for a child when you are deemed old enough to do the walk on your own and cross the busy road in front of the school.
These memories are strong because walking is a process that keeps you grounded (pun intended). Walking allows the present moment to intrude on my thoughts, as a bird skitters in the bushes or eyes me warily from the roadside, and as the dogs I may be walking decide to stop suddenly or pull ahead.
Walking is an in-the-moment activity, a chance to truly embrace the present.
Being in your own skin gives us a ‘now wow’
Most of the time now, I walk around my neighbourhood. Not long ago, as I took a familiar route, I decided to add another dimension to my walking. I am a tactile person, I love to feel textures. This day, I allowed my fingertips to touch the foliage in the gardens as I walked. My hand brushed through lavenders and rosemary, releasing their beautiful perfume. I reached up and tugged gently at the overhanging willows and acacias. My palm skimmed across the top of diosma and geranium.
Each plant had a different feel. Each plant sent different messages to my brain. Some bushes were spiky, others smooth, while others almost silky. Some released perfume and others had none. Not only did I notice the feel of these various plants, I noted their colours, the varying shades of green and the shapes of the leaves, as well as the types of flowers in bloom, in bud or dying on the bush.
Love being in your own skin
I only have today. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow is yet to be. If today is the only time I have, if this moment is the one with which I am gifted, I am learning that I must embrace the present, to live in it and out of it. While it is great to reflect on the past to be able to learn from it (which I do), while it necessary to plan for the future and develop strategies to reach my goals, the ultimate reality is right now, in this present moment.
I have decided that I do not want to waste this moment. I have decided that I want to live fully in this moment. And to do so requires that I be fully present to what I am actually doing (and in this very moment, that means watching my fingers as I type and feeling the pressure of my fingertips against the keys of my computer).
Being present to the moment, embracing the present, is a conscious choice. it is intentional. It is a decision I get to make, we get to make, every moment of the day.
What embracing the present does is to challenge me to like being in my own skin – I cannot escape myself when I am embracing the present.
Being intentionally present allows me to be conscious of my heart beating, of the slight tinnitus from which I have always suffered, of the state of my nails, and of how my shoulders are feeling as they hunch over the keyboard. At the moment, it is silent, the dogs are sleeping and there is very little background noise, just the occasional thump of water through the pipes or the distant hum of a passing car or a plane flying overhead – and then the musical notification of another email hitting my inbox!
Find special ways of being in your own skin
Each of us lives individually unique lives. No two people experience a given moment, even a shared moment, in the same way, or develop the same memories of that event. Each of us sees the world through our particular eyes. And it is so important that we value what we see, what we experience, what we feel.
Our individual experiences of life are our own. They challenge us, they shape us, sometimes they bring pain, and often they bring us joy. Some moments we want to prolong, others we wish would be over before they begin.
But all we have is the present.
How do you embrace the present in the individual circumstances of your life? In its busyness? In its moments of quiet? I would love to hear what you do to embrace the present moments of your life. Make a comment below and share your present with the rest of us.