There aren't many games I'm great at. I love Backgammon, and Scrabble, and a rousing game of Canasta, but I'm not really very good at any of them. There is, however, one game I'm a hands-down champion at; the game of "What If?" Now that is a game I can really sink my teeth into and get some traction at.
Generally a one-player game, the psychic rush of "What If?" may be ramped up by the inclusion of a close friend who wordlessly adheres to the understood credo that, while it's OK to dispute a little, too much can be akin to friendship heresy. If no friends are around to take on this role, however, a drama-filled game may be played alone.
"What if I get fired from my job?"
"What if I never meet anyone and end up dying alone?"
"What if I don't make enough money this year?"
"What if I get cancer?"
"What if the bank forecloses on the house?"
"What if my daughter is killed in a car accident?"
The game of "What If?" unleashes our imaginations and projects us into a future rife with imagined problems and ills. How many of us ever really play the game with a positive spin? "What if everything goes well for me in the next two weeks?" Be honest. We never play that way.
This game, this view into the future through a distorted lens, isn't a view at all, but a horribly twisted fantasy. It robs us of energy and more importantly, it robs us of the present. So much of our time is spent reliving what has happened in the past, or considering what the future may hold, even as our present is slipping away without so much as the recognition of the gift it offers.
Think for a moment. How do you spend your time in the shower? Doing all the basic tasks of getting clean, I know. But where is your mind while you're scrubbing? Does it visit the past? Does it indulge in fantasies of the future? While processing the past is important, and reminding ourselves of what is to come in our day is equally important, the present should take center stage. I challenge you to be in the moment, to practice being in the moment, the next time you're in the shower. Close your eyes and savor the water on your body. Savor the peace, and safety, and solitude of those few moments alone. Recognize the treasure of the present.
When I feel myself ramping up to a game of "What If?" I bring myself back to the present by reminding myself of a few simple truths. Whatever the future may hold, for this moment, I am safe. For this moment, I have food to eat, shelter over my head, and I am physically safe. For this moment, I am okay.
I challenge you to be present in the present in the coming days. Be open to each moment and resist the urge to borrow unrealized troubles from the future. I'm working on it too, right alongside you.