Baby Steps

by Mark Paxson aka KingMidget of King Midget Ramblings

When Sreejit invited me to participate in this project, I was both intrigued and terrified. Intrigued because it connects to an idea, a concept that has intrigued me for many years. Terrified because I have never come close to mastering that idea. I have barely dabbled in it. The idea that I could write about this concept in any credible way just seemed and still seems to be ludicrous. I am not even a neophyte at the idea of intention, walking with it, living with it, or even understanding it. But I thought this might be a good way to not just tell my story, but to explore it as well and maybe learn from the telling.

I was raised Catholic, but when I became an adult, I escaped that faith and have spent the last 30 years of my life without a faith, without a belief that is other than this. I believe in the power of human beings to overcome. In the idea that we can only rise to our highest level if we all rise together. In the power of love.

As I have gone through life, dealing with the slings and arrows that come my way, I have explored Buddhism, meditation, yoga, and the like, but have never really been able to get deep enough into it to make it a way of life. There are all of those other things. The job, the family, the many interests I have, all conspiring to prevent me from getting down to the most fundamental peace that I need in my life. As a friend told me yesterday, to accept the reality of what I am.

When I was a kid, my father regularly warned me against wishing my life away. I never learned that lesson. I have continued to always live for tomorrow. When my kids were young, I was always eager to see them in the next phase of their lives. Once they could walk, what would it be like when they started to talk? Once they could run, what would it be like to see them play baseball or soccer or whatever sport they may choose? Once they started school, what would intrigue them and motivate them? And once they grew older, when would they be able to take care of themselves so that I wouldn’t have to? So that I could get on with the rest of my life.

And that has always been the rub with me. I have never been able to enjoy today because I have always considered the rest of my life to be more important. It has always been about how to get to tomorrow and about what tomorrow could be rather than living today and making this moment the best it could be.

How then could I possibly speak to the concept of walking with intention? What walking with intention means to me is to live in the moment. To walk with the intent that every step matters. That each of those steps are it. But when I walk, I am elsewhere, thinking about my responsibilities here and my obligations there. I consider what I could be doing, should be doing, and it is so hard for me to focus on the where and the when of my walk.

I’m working on it though.

About a year ago I got to know a co-worker. Very soon I began to call her my Positivity Guru. She exposed me to simple breathing exercises and meditation techniques. She got me interested again in yoga – something I had experienced a few times a couple of years ago and really enjoyed but lost track of in the whirlwind of other activities in my life.

After spending a few years wallowing in certain miseries of my life, at the beginning of this year I realized I could no longer wallow. With the words and ideas of my Positivity Guru in my ears and my deep and heartfelt need to do something different to change the dynamic of my life, I went for a walk along a river in my hometown. It was a beautiful January morning. The sun was out, sparkling off the river’s surface. It was quiet. I was at peace. I was reveling in the moment and nothing more and I thought about how my friend had encouraged me to come up with mantras when I meditate. I had toyed with one in recent weeks and decided I needed to state it right then, to make it my mantra. In the dirt of the river bank, I wrote

Mantra

That is what walking with intention means to me and it continues to be a constant struggle for me to achieve. In the eight months since I wrote those words, I have meditated less and less, stopped going to yoga, and am back mired in the frustrations of daily life. I continue to live more for tomorrow – retirement is now less than four years away!!! I don’t know how to make that shift. After a life of living for tomorrow, I simply do not know how I can truly be here. I do not know what it means to be now. And to me the present is just what I must tolerate to get to tomorrow. And when tomorrow comes, it only morphs into the present, and there is always another tomorrow to think about. If I can’t figure those things out, how can I possibly begin to live my life in the worlds of peace and love?

I paused in the writing here and took another look at Sreejit’s explanation of his project and these words jumped out at me: “How does it effect your beliefs, your judgements and your pardons?” And I realize just how much more work I have to do in this area. For the most part, I view my efforts as improving my life, my perspective, my walk through the world and through time. I rarely view it in the prism of my interactions with others, although I believe that if I can find that place of intention where I am comfortable and at peace it will improve not just my relations with others but their lives as well.

But let me back up a bit and get to the real crux of the matter. Walking with intention to me means ultimately that I no longer dwell on any of this. That the 1,000 or so words that preceded this very sentence are no longer a part of the mental calculus that fills my head throughout every day. Instead, if I were able to walk with intention, I would be at peace with who I am. Comfortable with where I am. That the here and the now and who and the what of my life and myself are all that I can expect and that I will revel in those things. And in the reveling I will make today the best it can be and that’s all that really matters. Today. With intention.

Wish me luck.

mark p

Mark Paxson is an attorney in California. He has several blogs, including KingMidget’s Ramblings, which chronicles all the things he wants to shout to the skies; MarkPaxson.com, which chronicles his life as a writer of short stories and novels; and The American River, his newest blog which chronicles his quiet moments along the American River. Mark has self published two novels and two short story collections and continues to struggle through the worlds in his head to produce more stories.

 

 

 

Written for Walking With Intention.  If you’d like to be a part of the challenge, find more info here: Walking With Intention.  But first leave a comment and let Mark know how you feel about what he said, and be sure to visit him over at KingMidget’s Ramblings when you’re done.

24 Comments

  1. Thank you Mark, for sharing a bit of your journey with us. I know that I can definitely relate. It seems like it should be so easy to change the “mental calculus” to be at peace with ourselves and our journey, but it is one of the great challenges of our lives. But it is a worthwhile goal for sure.

    Like

  2. The most challenging part of letting go is that it’s not another goal or action. It’s just letting go. It’s taken me a long time to notice that, and still is something which happens more easily with ongoing practice.
    Yay for you finding a Positivity Guru, and being ready to listen and learn!
    Vincent

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I like this. You address the desire to move forward while holding onto the peace of the moment.

    I tell my kids, the older you get the faster time moves. All we have is this moment. We cannot change the last one and the next my never come. Learn from the past, plan for the future, but live for right now because that’s all we may have.

    I will have to check out your books 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are definitely right about time speeding up as we get older. It’s amazing how quickly the years are rolling by now. Yet more reason to try to slow things down for the experience of today.

      Like

  4. Excellent post! To me learning to live in the moment is a lifelong endeavor. You have awareness, tools and motivation. You ARE doing it. I believe It is completely normal to backslide as you make the journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wonderfully written! I can feel your struggle and have lived it myself. I wish you luck on this journey. You can do it. Just one step at a time is all that is needed. There is nothing wrong with planning for the future. But as you stated, you need to see the present to appreciate what the future will be…before it turns into the present and ignored. Best wishes to you and thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It takes great conviction to own up to what you believe in 🙂 though at first it seems difficult but in order to live we must take this stand. While being prepared for tomorrow seems like a good idea; it takes every ounce of our strength not to dwell upon it. Truly touched by your story. Best wishes to you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great post… not only because of how it reflects your experiences and struggles, but also because of what it has caused me to ponder. Having read your submission after completing mine yesterday, It has dawned on me that most of my energy of intention is spent on others… how they will feel, how they will flourish, how they might be uplifted and redirected to a better state of existence. And while that certainly provides a positive experience for me, it does not necessarily focus the depth of intent I have for others for myself, as well. I find myself too busy to think about, give considering to or intend for myself. Like you, I am always looking ahead, planning ahead, worrying ahead… seeking the next issue to tackle before it becomes an issue. As such, the only times I focus on “now” to any notable degree are when I am absorbed in service to others in great need or spending one-on-one time with the few close family members I have. Still, I have to force myself to calm my nerves which long to mentally “get ahead”… just so I can submit my fullness to the moment… the moment I’ll never get back,… the moment I’m, in fact, investing in someone else.

    I love that you’ve stirred my personal pot with this piece. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I think you described the spiritual path really well in wanting to be at peace with who you are, where you are. Welcome to the seeker’s angst. The Yoga SUTRAS say that the speed that you reach that intention is relative to the intensity of desire (or the intensity of that angst). Contentment with our current emotional/mental state is, ironically, a speed bump on that path. In this way, looking at the “bright side of things” is consoling but dilutes our intention to reach our real goals. Thanks for sharing with honesty and earnestly. May the fire of your angst get kindled high enough to develop persistence and energy with spiritual practices.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Great post, Mark!! I was reading this on the bus and kept bobbing my head…yeah, yeah, I kept saying to myself…I do that too!!! Awareness is the ticket and when you get on that train and get off is a lifelong journey. Truly enjoyed your message humbly sharing a bit of yourself here.

    Liked by 1 person

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