I'd like to tell you about the first time in my life I felt present - or the time I was actually aware of being in the present moment. In my twenties I worked in hospitality. At this particular time I was working as the assistant manager of a resort in a beautiful town in Vietnam called Hoi An. It was a lovely boutique resort by the river and was normally quite busy. Since I worked in operations, my days were very full on. See, my main job was to make sure everything was running smoothly in all departments and deal with any issues that would arise during the day (and night). When I'd get home I would still bring work with me. My mind would be active, working tirelessly, looking for solutions to problems that haven't yet been solved or dwelling on unpleasant conversations I'd had that day. A month after I started my job at the resort, my boyfriend at the time came all the way from Portugal to join me in this new adventure. As we settled in our countryside house he thought it was a good idea to give me a rescue puppy for Christmas. I was in love. But of course having a new puppy at home meant a lot of extra work, which to be honest, I was more than pleased to have. One of my tasks then was to walk the dog. I'd set my alarm clock for 5 in the morning so I could go for 2 to 3 hour long walks with him in the rice fields near our home. I'd do this knowing he'd be on his own for most of the day. And so it started my journey into the present moment. We would leave the house, Hawk would be on the lead, but as soon as we turned the corner into the entrance of the rice fields I'd set him free. And there he'd go, running wild, being free as he could be.
In the first few weeks of this new routine, my mind would still be busy while walking Hawk, thinking about work most of the time. Walking Hawk was a task I had to do. Not unpleasant, but still a task. After a month or so though, something amazing happened, and it might sound a bit crazy, but I promise this was what really happened. So there I was, getting ready to walk the dog. It was a normal morning. We leave the house, Hawk is on the lead, we're walking the little dusty road that leads to the rice field and as we turn the corner I am in awe. Oh my god! I cannot believe my eyes. Everywhere I look is beyond beautiful. There's this golden glow on every tree, plant and flower. Wherever my eyes stop it's like I can zoom in and see all these incredible details. The plants have veins and they feel so alive. The flowers have colors I have never noticed before. When I look at the trunks of the trees it's like I can feel the layered bark on my hands. The sun is shining perfectly on every living thing on the rice paddy. Everything looks so divine and alive. One would think I was having a psychedelic experience, but it was 5 in the morning, before work, and I've never taken acid in my life. As I set Hawk free and he ran wild once again I kept wondering "has the rice field always looked this way??". I know now it had, I just wasn't paying attention. Without my realizing, that day, that morning, that walk, there were no more thoughts. I completely forgot about work. It was like nothing else existed besides that moment. I was so effortlessly present. The entire walk was a fascinating journey that kept me absorbed in all the little things that catched my eyes. The next day, when I went for a walk with Hawk, things didn't look exactly the same as the previous morning. But something had shifted in me and those walks became such a joy. They were my favorite part of the day. I cannot even begin to explain how fulfilling it was watching Hawk having so much fun, running wild, chasing birds, barking at the fireflies, jumping into the watery rice fields, disappearing from my sight every time he did it, jumping back to the path a few meters ahead. What a joy! Hawk was killed later that year. But I will always carry with me the love we had for each other and the lessons his short life brought to mine. I know things are changing and technology has come to speed things up quite a bit. But it saddens me when I realize we don't have the patience anymore to read a post that becomes too long or enjoy reading a book slowly, like actually reading every word, without jumping the paragraphs so we can quickly move on to the next thing. This morning I'm present. It felt nice recalling such a lovely time in my life. I wrote this while sipping a nice warm cup of tea, watching the sun rise and the city coming to life. It's the little things isn't it? Love, Michelle