Musings

BE HERE NOW: Letting go of the past to be in the present

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“We are human BEINGS, not human DOINGS or human TRYINGS”—Mary Burmeister 

Since I began practicing Jin Shin Jyutsu, I often think about BEING. For me BEING means being present in and to what is right now. BEING is about noticing how and where I am at a particular instant, really noticing. It is the noticing part that sometimes proves challenging. Sometimes my mind is full of all I “have to do”, often with some sense of urgency. I might notice hurriedly, thinking Ok, I am…and now I have to do x,y and z. I’ll really slow down enough to BE later. As it turns out, BEING is the foundation that makes any Doing possible. Over the last few years, through learning to BE with the discomfort of slowing down enough to notice now, I’ve come to realize that the speed and urgency I used to feel more of the time was just a distraction. It isn’t just speed and urgency that get in the way of noticing our BEINGness. For me, watching tv or surfing the internet or any other number of activities can be distractions from BEING in myself. What would happen if you simply noticed your BEING, really noticed? What would you discover there? Of course, sitting still is not the only way we can notice. Simply to bring our noticing into any moment, no matter what we’re doing, to notice our breath, the sensations in our body, our thoughts, our feelings, is possible in every instant.

One of the most profound impacts noticing my BEING has had in my life is in the realm of how I experience my familial relationships. A couple of months ago, I spoke with my brother Terfa briefly on the phone. He was in the States for a few days from Nigeria for a conference. I was hoping to see him and our brother Terhemen, who’d had just welcomed his first child into the world with his wife some weeks earlier. Terfa and I hadn’t spoken in about 2 years—not for any negative reason. We hadn’t had a falling out or anything of the sort. Before I continue, a bit of background: I am one of 13 children on my father’s side, while I am my mother’s only child. I grew up briefly with some of my siblings and then didn’t see or speak with them from age 5 until reconnecting with them at age 15. For a long time, I felt a deep sense of loss in not having spent those formative years with them. I longed for the bond they seemed to have with one another. This had been a quiet but defining longing in me. Don’t misunderstand, we get along well and love each other. While this is true, it happens that years can pass without me speaking with them. In years past, speaking with Terfa would have touched on that old longing, The wound of not growing up with my siblings. I had, at various points, romanticized a childhood I didn’t have and, when possible, aimed for a familiarity not actually rooted in real shared experiences and memories. For example, when I’d see a few of them during a vacation, I’d laugh at inside jokes I had no idea about or feign understanding pidgin or slang I didn’t actually. To have my experience of my family be rooted in memories I long for but which aren’t true, kept me slightly out of the present, out of being able to get to know one another as deeply as possible, which was easier with the two other of my siblings who also didn’t grow up with the clan.

On that March night, in my BEINGness, I felt present to the conversation, to the delight of speaking with Terfa, the delight of knowing we share blood and all that comes with that, the delight of talking about visiting him and his family next time I’m in Nigeria, simply the delight. For the first time, my longing for an imagined shared past took a backseat in a way it hadn’t really done before. I was HERE NOW, talking to my elder brother. Speaking to Terfa in 2013 reminded me of how curious and interested I am in each of my siblings and how much I want to get to know them better, as we are now. What a blessing that this is possible—no family feuds or other nonsense to stand as a wall between us.  I don’t need to hold on to an old wish, a wish to alter a past I didn’t create and cannot change. As most of my siblings now have children, and I grow in my womanhood, I realized that this long and old hankering leaves out the wonderful blessings and potential of now. It only took 26 or so years to understand thatJ It’s never to late to BE HERE NOW.

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