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
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 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.