Pull the rip cord!
For as long as I can remember, my Dad would tell me when I was a kid, “Brett, don’t wish your life away, one day you will wish it would slow down.” I used to think, “He must be joking!” As a kid, many of us couldn’t wait to grow up so we could do adult things like, “boss other people around, tell other people to clean their rooms, drive our own car, get our own place to live, and do whatever we wanted to do”
When I finally did leave home and start our on my own, I still couldn’t wait for life to really begin. I was always looking ahead for the next thing. In many ways I have no regrets about living that way. I saw and did a lot. Now as I experience my own “middle ages”, I am experiencing the need to want to slow life down. I had hoped that my Dad would tell me that life starts to slow as you get into your late sixties and seventies but much to my horror, he tells me now that it is, “Moving faster than ever!”
I suppose it is natural that once you reach the tipping point of your years and your start living the latter half of your life, you realize the end is really out there. That is not meant to sound depressing but merely an accounting of time. What I have realized is the more busy you are, the less you notice the present moment. When your head is down and you are running as fast as you can, time can slip away. Now as I watch my own kids grow, I find myself not only wanting to slow life down so I don’t miss the important stuff but I want to set an example for them to live a full and mindful life.
The only way I know how to slow life down is to pull the rip cord and let the parachute slow me down. The parachute is a metaphor for practicing mindfulness. Many people hear the word “mindfulness” and immediately glaze over. It is used so often now that people have a misconception or general apathy towards the word and the practice. Mindfulness doesn’t require you to sit like a yogi in lotus and repeat a mantra. Mindfulness requires you to focus on this moment right now.
One of the best ways to do this is to pay attention to something, to anything for several minutes. You could watch clouds go by, you could close your eyes and listen to a ticking clock, you could watch children play but whatever you do, you must be mindful. Do not think of what you will do next or what you did in the past. As thoughts come in, let them come and go. Do not pass judgement on any thought. With practice, mindfulness becomes easier and more effective.
Slow life down, pull the rip cord, feel the drag of your parachute, notice everything, practice mindfulness.
P.S. I did try parachuting once before (for real). It was actually a highly effective form of mindfulness. During the 30 seconds or so of a free fall to earth, you really cannot think of anything other than that moment!