CHAPTER 3:
PRESENT AS A PIGEON
If you are depressed, you are living
in the past. If you are anxious, you
are living in the future. If you are
at peace, you are living in the
present.
—Lao Tzu; ancient Chinese
philosopher, founder of
Taoism, could have been one
guy or a mythical compilation
of many, nobody really knows
for sure
I was in yoga class one day and the
instructor told us all to get into Pigeon
Pose, which is this pose where you
stretch one leg out behind you, fold the
other one out sideways in front of you
and then bend forward and lie down on
top of the whole thing. It’s fine if you’re
a pigeon, but it’s one of the poses I
dread most because my hips don’t move
that way, it hurts and I’m always scared
I’m gonna get stuck.
But even though my body has
requested otherwise, I’m in class and
going for it, and am determined to “relax
into it” even though I’m really just
silently begging the dude to tell us to
change into a different pose, which he
doesn’t do because he’s too busy talking.
He’s blabbing on and on and on about
our connection to The Universe and our
breath and the path to true enlightenment
and holy fucking shit dude will you
hurry up I think I’m going to rip
something I really do oh my God I think
I’m actually stuck how am I going to
get out of this pose he’s gonna have to
come over here and lift me out of it
because I really truly am stuck and then
whoosh . . .
I breathe into it. I shut off the
relentless yammering in my brain, get
quiet, and surrender. I feel my body shift
and go deeper into the pose than it’s ever
gone before. The pain is gone. The panic
is gone. I am one with The Universe. But
then I realize that I really do think I’m
stuck and seriously what the hell dude
are you going to talk all night we’ve
been in this freakin’ pose for five
minutes for real and by the way my
knee just got all hot and you really are
not going to shut up even though I keep
thinking you finally are but then you
keep going and then, whoosh . . .
I reconnect. I’m back in The Zone. I
melt deeply into this pose and feel such
bliss and true connection to something
much larger than myself.
This flip-flopping between freaking
out in our heads and “breathing into the
Now” is basically how most of us go
through life. Instead of worrying about
the possibility of dislocating a hip (the
future) or about how bad I was at this
pose (the past), I could have luxuriated
in the magnificence available to me in
the moment.
It never ceases to amaze me the
precious time we spend chasing the
squirrels around our brains, playing out
our dramas, worrying about unwanted
facial hair, seeking adoration, justifying
our actions, complaining about slow
Internet connections, dissecting the lives
of idiots, when we are sitting in the
middle of a full-blown miracle that is
happening right here, right now.
We’re on a planet that somehow
knows how to rotate on its axis and
follow a defined path while it hurtles
through space! Our hearts beat! We can
see! We have love, laughter, language,
living rooms, computers, compassion,
cars, fire, fingernails, flowers, music,
medicine, mountains, muffins! We live in
a limitless Universe overflowing with
miracles! The fact that we aren’t
stumbling around in an inconsolable
state of sobbing awe is appalling. The
Universe must be like, what more do I
have to do to wake these bitches up?
Make water, their most precious
resource, rain down from the sky?
The Universe loves us so much, and
wants us to partake in the miraculous so
badly, that sometimes she delivers little
wake-up calls. Like in the movies when
someone narrowly escapes death and is
so overjoyed and grateful that they take
to the streets, skipping and laughing and
madly hugging everyone in sight.
Suddenly all their “problems” fall away
and the miracle of being alive, today, in
this moment takes over the screen. I
know someone who got sucked through a
dam and almost died who now speaks
about it as one of his most profound and
life-changing experiences. Not that I’d
wish that on anyone, but take heart in the
fact that should you require some sort of
catastrophe for your transformation, it
can be cosmically arranged.
The Universe has also surrounded us
with the perfect teachers. Animals, for
example. Animals are in the present all
the time, and their secret power is to
pull us in with them. My friend’s dog is
so happy to see her every single time she
walks in the door it’s like she’s about to
free him from forty years of
imprisonment. Even if she’s only been
gone for an hour. You’re here. I’m here. I
love you. I’m gonna pee all over the
floor about it.
Little kids are also excellent guides.
Kids get so wrapped up in the joy of
drawing or pretending or discovering
that they’d rarely eat or bathe or sleep if
we didn’t make them. They are
constantly creating in a state of freeflowing, concentrated bliss, they haven’t
yet learned to worry about what other
people think of them or that perhaps
they’re not as talented at finger painting
as Lucy next door is. They are in the
moment. There is fun in the moment. End
of story.
We would be wise to
take more of our cues
from the beasts and
babies.
All the stuff we’re so worried about
creating and fixated on becoming is
already right here, right now. The money
you want already exists; the person you
want to meet is already alive; the
experience you want to have is
available, now; the idea for that brilliant
song you want to write is here, now,
waiting for you to download the
information. The knowledge and insight
and joy and connection and love are all
wagging their hands in your face, trying
to get your attention. The life you want is
right here, right now.
What the hell am I talking about? If
it’s all here, where is it?
Think of it like electricity. Before the
invention of the light bulb, most people
weren’t aware of electricity’s existence.
It was still here, exactly the same way it
is right now, but we hadn’t yet woken up
to it. It took the invention of the light
bulb to bring it to our attention. We had
to understand how to manifest it into our
reality.
It’s not that the things
and opportunities that
we want in life don’t
exist yet.
It’s that we’re not yet
aware of their existence
(or the fact that we can
really have them).
The more practiced you become at
being present and connected to Source
Energy, the more available you are to
download ideas and seize opportunities
that you might miss out on if you’re all
wrapped up in the endless chatter in
your head.
There’s a great Hindu story about a
lady who wanted to meet the god
Krishna. So she went into the forest,
closed her eyes, and prayed and
meditated on making the god appear and
lo and behold, Krishna came wandering
down the forest path toward her. But
when Krishna tapped the lady on the
shoulder, she, without opening her eyes,
told him to get lost because she was
busy meditating on a very important
goal.
When we get so wrapped up in our
heads, we miss out on what’s available
to us right now in the moment. Stop and
notice how you feel right now. Feel your
breath moving in and out of your body.
Feel the air on your skin. Feel your heart
beating. Your eyes seeing. Your ears
hearing. Notice the energy inside and
outside of you buzzing. Shut off your
thoughts and feel your connection to
Source. B-r-e-a-t-h-e. Even if you’ve got
bone-chilling credit card debts or you
haven’t spoken to your mother in six
years, right now, in this moment, you can
find peace and joy in that which simply
is.
As adults with responsibilities like
bodies to care for and mortgages to pay,
there’s some value in taking a side trip
away from the present moment every
once in a while; sometimes we need to
think about and plan for the future, as
well as study the past in order to learn
from it or laugh about it or to bury it out
back and let it go forever. And if we just
stopped by for the occasional visits to
the future and past, that would