Recently I was browsing in my favorite store in Cambria, Moonstones Gallery, and was delighted to come across a very funny Brian Andreas Story People print that said:
Rules for a successful holiday:
1. Get together with the family
2. Relive old times
3. Get out before it blows (tick tick tick)
The reason that’s so funny is because it can be so true! It reminded me of my annual visits to my family home in Mystic, Connecticut — what I liked to call The Button Factory because that’s where all my buttons were installed. I considered it my yearly exam for all the personal growth I’d achieved that year. I’d start out with such good intentions to stay calm, stay centered, stay present; but as the days went by…tick tick tick…the big KABOOM loomed and I was doomed!
It was very humbling. Ram Dass once said, “If you think you are enlightened, go and spend a week with your parents.” Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now, wrote in response to that quote, “The relationship with your parents is not only the primordial relationship that sets the tone for all subsequent relationships, it is also a good test for your degree of Presence. The more shared past there is in a relationship, the more present you need to be; otherwise, you will be forced to relive the past again and again.”
I was talking to Tom about the trials of family visits, and shared a joke I’d heard about it:
Question: What is Einstein’s theory of relativity?
Answer: The closer you get to your relatives the slower time goes.
He laughed and said that could be taken two ways. He has an unusually harmonious family, so for him the closer he gets to his family, time slows down in a good way because he is fully present with them, savoring every delicious moment.
This has been one of the big gifts of the big “C” for me — I’m learning to savor every precious moment with loved ones, with this planet, with this earthsuit known as Janet. The ‘tick tick tick’ of time passing has slowed down to ‘Now Now Now’. I reassure myself, “Right now I’m all right and right now is all there is.” That’s the mantra that comforts me the most when my worst fears come up — it successfully brings me back to the safety and reality of the present moment.
In the present moment, life is experienced as it is…not as it might be in the future or as it was in the past. Therefore, I believe that one very important rule for a successful holiday (and life) is to be fully present with what is happening now, savoring life and loved ones like delicious eggnog.
My mother passed away several years ago and our childhood home was sold. I can honestly say that I miss The Button Factory. I wish I’d been able to savor more the time I spent there. I wish I had allowed myself to experience time slowing down in a good way. A valuable lesson I’ve learned from that is: Better to savor than be sorry.
How about you? Do you have a mantra that helps you stay centered and present during challenging times (like family visits)? Is there something that helps remind you to savor the delicious present rather than gnaw on the painful past? I’m wishing you a very savory Christmas present!