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If not now ... when?

I recently took advantage of the opportunity to volunteer with the Special Olympics Horsemanship program at the LASSO facility. This is something I used to do every year, but haven’t for the last few years, because I thought I was too busy. I kept saying maybe next year. This year, I once again hesitated due to myriad other things I had to do. It was then that a bumper sticker I had seen popped into my mind that said, “If not now, when?”

It dawned on me as I pondered that question that as each year went by and I didn’t participate in this, or many other things, “not now” was becoming “not ever.”

I was shocked to realize I had joined the ranks of the “hurry up and wait” contingency. It is such a paradox to be always busy, busy, busy, and yet always waiting. I find myself saying all too often, “Not now, I’m too busy, maybe later,” “not now, maybe tomorrow,” “not now, when I have more money,” “not now, let’s wait for better weather,” “not now, I’m too tired.” Again, not now, in reality, becomes not ever! The gigantic “not now” all of society has fallen into seems to be “not now, but when I retire!” Then I will take that trip to Italy, then I will learn to paint, then I will spend more time with the kids, then I will take piano lessons. Then, then, then! Only for so many of us then is always one step ahead, that point in time we are waiting for, busy running toward, but which never actually arrives.

That simple question was a wake-up call for me. My thoughts went spewing all over the place screaming, “Look around, honey! How much of your life are you missing because now is never a good time? Now is all you have. Face it. As much as you might like to go down memory lane, the past is gone. Gone! There is not one thing you can do to change it, the good or the not so good. Forget it. The future you keep imagining is just that — imagined. You can only affect the future by what you do, action you take, thoughts you think, right now! Living in a dream world of a better time ahead isn’t going to get you there. It is a nice way to pass the time maybe, but sooner or later you will wake up to find nothing has changed. I was getting the message loud and clear!”

So, I volunteered to help with Special Olympics. What I saw happening there was transformational. Here were a group of volunteers, a group of athletes and a group of horses who had come together for a common purpose. Many were totally unacquainted with each other, yet each and every one was an example of living in the present moment. The volunteers were in the moment because they had to pay close attention at all times to what was happening all around them with the riders and the horses they were assisting, as well as the tasks they were doing. The horses, well, horses always live in the moment; it is how they were designed. They don’t really ever stand around thinking about yesterday’s breakfast or where they are going tomorrow, or begrudging who kicked them earlier. They just take each day moment by moment. There is much to learn from them in this regard.

Then, there were the athletes — they were real stars. It was fascinating watching them so intent on every moment they spent on those horses. Their approach was, “What do I need to do right now?” They would get so engrossed in what they had to do at this moment that they would have to be reminded of what they were to do next. You might call this lack of focus, but I saw it as being totally focused on the moment they were in. Each moment might present something different. One minute there was laughter, the next there might be some frustration, or sometimes fear, but through it all everyone supported one another and just moved on to the next moment. I learned some very valuable lessons, had the opportunity to meet some awesome people and be touched by the interaction of so many lives coming together to accomplish a collective goal. Were we successful? Absolutely! The joy and fulfillment I felt as I drove away at the end was nearly indescribable. You can bet I plan to be back next year. But, in the meantime, I will work on living every day just like that day, in the moment, right now.

Now, before I wrap this up, I want to share the deeper realization that has occurred for me as I have contemplated all this “now,” “in the moment” stuff. I realize the only place in time I have a choice to make is “now,” “right now” and “only now.” Life is made up of one moment, one now, after another. Everything that ever happens can only happen now. Yes, I have to plan and have an idea of where I am going, but how I choose to be and what I choose to do right now, and right now, and right now, is what ends up making up my whole life. The question then becomes, “How will I choose to live my life … now?” I, and only I, get to make that choice. And I only get to make it now.

Be The Change. If not now, when?

For all of you who like to check out the police blotter in the local paper, you will see, or maybe already saw, that I recently had an opportunity to “be the change” when I had a rather unexpected rendezvous with a state patrol officer. I was coming down Wolf Creek Pass, living totally in the moment, focused on the conversation I was having with my mom when I rounded a corner, saw the patrol car, glanced down and realized I was going a little too fast. Well, maybe a lot too fast, like 61 in a 45. Oops. I started pulling over even before he hit his lights. He didn’t even have to move his car. He, of course, informed me of the situation, my speed, and that he was going to issue me a citation. I pleaded guilty as charged and pleasantly supplied him with all the paraphernalia he needed to do his job. We had a lovely conversation and he expressed his appreciation for my congenial attitude, stating how rare it was. Although I admit I didn’t like getting the ticket, I was happy I had the opportunity to make someone else’s day just a little brighter by putting into practice … being the change.

For more information on “Be The Change Pagosa Springs,” call Andrea at 831-4268, or e-mail, to get on the mailing list. Meetings are held the fourth Tuesday of every month, from 7-8:30 p.m. at the community center’s north conference room (better known as the senior’s dining room).