Remember to Milk

An ambitious little bluebird at the lake near my home.  Photo copyright by Lorna Tedder; all rights reserved.

One of the hardest things for me to do, up until recently, was to relax and enjoy the moment–something that greatly hindered my happiness quotient.

Sure, I would see all the beauty around me, but instead of enjoying it, I would immediately find something to worry about and skip ahead to what I “needed” to do.  Perhaps I would see an Eastern Bluebird–a rarity–and instead of marvelling at it, my mind would skip back to people who interfered with my mom’s bluebird trail 15 years ago or skip ahead to wondering what might kill off this little bird’s fledglings–snakes, ants, drought, predatory birds,  ignorant kids, you name it.

Perhaps I’d notice the blue hydrangeas beginning to bloom in my back yard and instead of glorying in their beauty, I’d acknowledge them and then immediately remind myself that I needed to haul some limbs to the curb or burn some trash left over from trimming an oak.

Instead of enjoying the afterglow in the arms of my very sexy lover, I would soon find my mind wandering to the morning, whether the clock would go off and he’d make it back home in time for work,  whether I’d oversleep, how the next afternoon’s business  meeting would go, and what time he was coming over the next night and if we’d have time to drive out to Seaside together.  Yes, my mind would be too busy plotting every possible fix to any possible problem that might arise.

Staying “in the moment” was awfully hard.  If I wasn’t flitting back to the past to something that usually wasn’t near as pleasant, then I was trying on different possible futures…none of which tended to be as pleasant.

The biggest difference is that I’ve learned to milk it.  Milk the moment.  Enjoy it.  Glory in it.  Several of my friends refer to it as “basking,” which is a verb I like.

Instead of noting something sweet and then marching full speed ahead into something not so sweet, I linger on it now, marvel at it. I stay focused on it for as long as I can.

For example, while walking down by the lake at sunset, I spotted a flurry of blue flying from the woods to a bird box someone had put up at a quiet spot on the bank of the lake.  Instead of thinking, “Oh, a pretty bluebird!” and either walking on or diving into a whirlpool of what-if, I took out my camera with the telephoto lens and started taking pictures.  I got this profile shot and that one, one of him with his mate in the box, and couldn’t stop grinning as he seemed to pose for me.  When a car passed us slowly, he flew to a sign that had been put up about 20 feet away.  I followed and had to laugh at the sign he’d chosen:”  FISHING BY CATCH & RELEASE ONLY.   I let all sorts of fun scenarios play out in my head, most of them ending with that tiny bluebird tossing a big fish back into the lake.   A man and his son, who were fishing nearby, chatted with me about bluebirds and photography, and by the time the bird finally flew out of sight, I had spent a good 10 minutes soaking up the beauty of the moment.    I focused on enjoying nothing but that moment and its beauty, and a single moment of beauty turned into 10 minutes of it.

So now when I see something or hear something or feel something glorious, I don’t rush ahead to my daily life or the future.  The side effect is that my daily life overall is happier, as long as I remember to milk the sweetest moments.