Be in the moment. Why is it so difficult to take a step back and savor the moment we’re in? It seems like we’re all so set on figuring out the future or re-analyzing the past that we find it almost impossible to simply be. I’ve decided it’s because sometimes the moment we’re in is really scary or painful. When there are a lot of unknowns and crazy things floating around in your head, being in the moment is literally the last place you want to be. It’s often easier to fantasize about the future or place blame on the past instead of sitting with what is. There certainly is a time an place for looking forward and backward. I don’t think we can successfully move forward in life if we don’t accept and work through some things from our past, but when either is all consuming, it doesn’t do us any good. We need to learn it’s OK to feel whatever we’re feeling in a moment and to accept that these moments are our life and if we keep pushing through them, we’re going miss out on a lot. Fear of the future and regret of the past can be paralyzing but we don’t have to let them be. We can accept those feelings for what they are, while also committing to living out each moment.
One of the only ways I’ve truly been able to do this in my own life is by getting outside. Whether it’s on a trail, in a park, or just sitting in the backyard in the rain, something about the fresh air and magnitude of mother earth brings me back to the moment. It makes me see that life can be incredibly painful and beautiful all at once and if I keep trying to avoid those moments, I’m going to miss it all. I was recently reminded of one of the toughest hikes I’ve ever done. There was a huge part of me that just wanted to be done. I was exhausted, fatigued, and grumpy (sorry hiking buddies). I had moments of regret (why did I even come, what was I thinking), moments of just go faster and it will all be over, but then there were moments of clarity, where I realized how incredibly lucky I was to be in this amazing place with a body that was allowing me to see things most people will never get to see, with some incredible people. And after the hardest part, came the beauty. There were waterfalls everywhere. There were images that were so incredible I had to keep reminding myself it wasn’t fake. Images that I could have easily powered past to the end. You had to go off the beaten path to see a lot of these. If my head had been down and all I cared about was getting to the end, I would have missed what was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I was in pain, I was exhausted, but I was savoring every moment. And in the end, that is what I remember. I do remember the hard parts. I remember wanting to quit like I’ve never wanted to quit before, but when I remember those things I smile. Because I remember getting to the other side and that by embracing the moment I was in, no matter how difficult, life showed me extreme beauty. It showed me there’s so much more out there if we’re willing to explore and embrace the hard parts. It showed me that quitting is simply not an option. If I had quit in those hard moments, in the middle of an ice field, I would have died. And I know sometimes quitting can feel like the only option, but it’s not. Because if you keep going and you accept the hard moments for what they are, there is extreme beauty on the other side. There is something over there you can’t even imagine right now and it is absolutely worth embracing every moment it takes you to get there.
This post wasn’t intentionally written to address suicide, but since it did take an unexpected turn at the end, if you do feel as though quitting is your only option, please reach out. Quitting is not your only option and there are people who can help. National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255