Right here, right now.

I heard a woman say once, “Be where your hands are.”

Doing dishes :(She was talking about doing dishes, and I thought, well that’s common sense. You can’t possibly be standing at the kitchen sink, elbows-deep in sudsy water, and be anywhere else.

Or, maybe you can.

Maybe you can be there at the counter, scrubbing away shards of dinner but thinking hard on yesterday’s mistakes or pleading for a better tomorrow — which means more time and more money and “not one more bill,” because September is a hard month and that first Fall paycheck that’s due soon is already spent. And then some. And, while your worries and frustrations sure get the plates clean, they also kick up the water which soaks into your shirt, and Oh. There you are, back at the sink.

Be where your hands are.

It doesn’t take much to set me spinning. News of crashing stocks (again) and predictions of economies on the brink, are enough. In a flash, I am hours ahead, or days past, or years into apocalypse kind of crazy. To put it in perspective: at one point this week, I seriously considered pulling my retirement funds and stuffing it all in my mattress. Kick it old school, I thought. Screw the Market.

It took my dad’s reassuring voice – “everything comes back around, just celebrate when the stocks go up again” (because they will) – and a phone call to a good friend to remind me that there’s plenty in this world I can’t control.

I’m not alone.

And, I do have today.

Be where your hands are.

So, I focus on things that keep me grounded, in the moment:

  • Laughter, from my kids or with a close friend or at myself (I can be fairly ridiculous at times), because a good belly laugh strikes the air and cuts through my fear and brings me back to Here and Now.
  • Reading books out loud to my son or daughter, because I can’t read aloud and let my thoughts wander at the same time. Plus, that time – snuggled up, sharing a story – I don’t want to waste it.
  • Checking in with friends who know me well enough to say, Yeah. You could stuff your mattress, but really, what would that accomplish? A poor night’s sleep. Trust the Universe.

Be where your hands are.

…Where are you today?

* Picture courtesy of tjshirey via Flickr.com

Christi

About Christi

Christi Craig is a native Texan living in Wisconsin, working by day as a sign language interpreter and moonlighting as a writer, teacher, and editor. Her stories and essays have appeared online and in print, and she received an Honorable Mention in Glimmer Train's Family Matters Contest, 2010. You can send comments or questions via her contact page.
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26 Responses to Right here, right now.

  1. Carl Purdon says:

    I’ve never been much good at being where my hands are. Especially when they are wrapped around the handlebars of my motorcycle and I’m idling down some remote highway when the weather’s just right. Those are the times when my mind drifts away and solves every problem I’ve ever had. Until the ride is over, that is.

    By the way, the new site looks great.

    • Christi Christi says:

      Carl,

      Boy, I’m not a motorcyclist, but I do understand the appeal in a nice, long ride somewhere. Anywhere. I suppose that’s the best time to let your thoughts go, especially if you’re solving problems! Then again, when I’m in the car – thinking too hard on distant things – that’s usually when I miss my turn. I’m queen of the u-turn *sigh* 🙂

      Glad you like the new site. Thanks!

  2. Vaughn Roycroft says:

    Love the new site, Christi. The image of the lake is lovely, and the red is warm and inviting. I’m with Carl on having difficulty staying in the moment. It’s one of the things I like about my side-gig as a carpenter. So much of that work is done by rote, it allows me to submerge in story and character. And it gives me at bit of mattress stuffing (not enough to keep me awake). I know what you mean about wanting to be in the moment though. I tell my wife not to let worrisome issues ‘rent any space in her head.’ Good luck keeping good renters!

  3. siggiofmaine says:

    Joan Borysenko writes about mindfulness in one’s life…staying in the present moment and the first thing I remember her talking about is being mindful cooking and doing the dishes. Love this subject…need all the reminders I can get to get back to mindfulness in this busy world.
    My art does that, writing does that..staying mindful the aches, pains and troubles of the day seem to go away …. life is good when one can be mindful.
    Thanks again…

    ☮ Siggi in Downeast Maine

    • Christi Christi says:

      Siggi,

      Thanks for your comment. I love this: staying mindful the aches, pains and troubles of the day seem to go away. And Joan Borysenko, I’ll have to look her up.

  4. I have two minds on this. One is that I agree we need to live in the moment. I’m like you in that I tend to let my imagination take over and borrow all kinds of trouble. Nothing good comes from that.

    My second thought is that these moments of “rote behavior”, especially involving water, is when I get my best writing inspiration. That wouldn’t happen unless I let my mind wander where it will.

    Maybe it’s a matter of balance. Or maybe just setting limits … I will allow my mind to go here, but not there.

    Thank you for making me think.

  5. Ah, I love this. I try to live like this but alas, need the constant reminders also. Mindfulness and being present in the moment are very, very powerful tools to peace. Thanks for the wonderful reminder to do this, and thanks too, for the reminder that I am not alone 🙂

  6. Interesting post, Christi. As writers, I think we tend to be daydreamers, that is, we’re often definitely NOT where are hands are. That can be a good thing. But we can also miss a lot of this wonderful thing called “real life.”

  7. So many times I find myself thinking ahead or thinking behind…a good reminder, this article.

  8. Beth Hoffman says:

    LOVE this post, Christi!

    The best thing I ever began to practice on a daily basis was to stay in the moment (and it’s not so easy!). I love how you refer to it as “Be where your hands are.”

    Happy Monday to you.

  9. Patrick Ross says:

    I like this way of thinking about being in the present. I’ve read a couple of books lately that have reminded me of the importance of this — Desert Solitaire and The Snow Leopard. My problem? My mind leaves my hands, goes forward in time and says “at some future moment you will be in the now” or goes into my past and says “it’s too bad at that moment you couldn’t have been in the now.” It’s an existential crisis!

  10. When I was in a car wreck and forced to deliver my first baby, things looked bleak. I was struggling, in pain, and worried what new terror each minute might bring. A nurse came in, a wise woman I will never know, and said to me, “This too shall pass.” She patted me on the arm and continued. “Whenever things seem like they can’t get any worse, just keep saying that to yourself, and eventually it will come true.”
    I know it’s not the answer to everything, but there have been some really dark moments in my life when I couldn’t count blessings or depend on the sun to rise. In those moments, I just kept saying it. Eventually it comes true.
    It’s similar to your dad’s advice–it all comes around. And it does.

  11. Victoria says:

    So, so hard to stay in the moment when I’m always looking over my shoulder for the best story idea to pop up. I’m with Linda, washing dishes, sweeping, cleaning the cat box–that’s when the ideas come, but I’m so glad you said what you did about reading stories to the kids. I can let my mind wander through stories too when I’ve read them enough, the words just pile out and I realize, the story’s over. If I do that too often I’ll be regretting it at some other present in the future.

    “I look forward and see myself looking back.”–Erica Jong

    • Christi Christi says:

      Love that quote, Victoria. And, I tell ya, reading to the kids is a treat and a treasure. I remind myself of that on the nights when I want to rush through the story.

  12. Great advice, Christi. I catch myself a lot doing exactly what you said, thinking about paying bills, running kids to practices, did I mention paying bills? I have been listening to books while I do chores lately to keep from realizing that I am doing chores (I hate chores). “Being in the moment” has been something that I love to do on vacation but why not at home as well? Thanks for making me take a deep breath I needed.

    • Christi Christi says:

      Hallie, I’m so glad you stopped by. I’ve been listening to music while I do things like laundry and dishes. Not sure if that really helps me stay in the moment, but it sure gives me more reason to fold a shirt with style and rhythm!

  13. Laurel Mayer says:

    Loved this post, Christi. Really made me think. I am notorious for not living in the moment. It’s so easy to get caught up in thoughts. Sometimes it’s more like I’m getting through the day, rather than enjoying the simple moments that bring a smile. Your words are a great reminder that in the chaotic swirl it is up to each of us individually to find the things that bring us peace. I am going to remember to be where my hands are.

  14. Pingback: In life and in writing, the message is the same. | Christi Craig

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