What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Most of us live in the past or in the future – living in the “now” can be difficult. It has even been theorized by some that the “now” can’t exist, because as soon as we grasp the moment, it becomes the past.
For those of us who practice mindfulness, encountering life challenges can make the concept of a ‘moment” more real. But, it is often during these life challenges that we realize we haven’t been living in the moment at all – and this realization can be painful.
In 2003, I was living the American Dream, by definition. I was happily married, living in a nice house, with two children, and a thriving business. Over 23 years of marriage, our family had traveled most of the world. When I was back home, I tried to attend all of my children’s soccer games, dance recitals, and countless other activities – like all parents do.
March of 2003 was “The Moment”. A call came that our daughter, Emily, was in a car accident while driving back to college. Five days later she passed away. Friends and family tried to comfort me by reminiscing about all the places and experiences I had with her. The painful truth was, most of the time, I really wasn’t there. On our trips, my thoughts were often about where we would be off to next. At soccer games, dance recitals, and school activities, I was there physically, but my mind was at the office or planning our next trip.
It wasn’t until I experienced this difficult challenge that I started to apply mindfulness to my everyday life. In mindfulness, the goal is liberation from suffering – it has been said that pain is inevitable and suffering is optional. I’ve been practicing mindfulness for over 20 years now. Being perfect is not my goal, but instead I do my best to live in the moment. My mindfulness practice helps me accomplish this.
Fifteen years after this life changing moment, my wife and I are celebrating 38 years of marriage. We took the dream that Emily had and started a foundation bringing the joy of dance to those of limited means in the urban core of Kansas City.
Paul Silverman is a dedicated practitioner member of the Midwest Alliance for Mindfulness. You can find him at many of our weekly practice meetings and you can learn more about his daughter, Emily’s foundation at www.emsspotlight.org.