Choosing to be Present

Two years ago I completed over 200 levels of Candy Crush in just a few weeks. I enjoyed playing video games because they made sense and gave me a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Video games were easy to navigate, unlike people and social atmospheres.

Shortly after that time I gave up video games for the next 6 months.

I don’t play video games anymore. I still enjoy them and will play in social situations, but I don’t play them by myself. During those 6 months I did so much good. I helped with dishes, played with my niece and nephew, and recognized and responded to needs of others.

When I went back to video games those actions disappeared. I didn’t have time to notice the world around me because I was too involved in my own world. At one point, I made a decision. I could either avoid pain and rejection, failure and loss, by disappearing into myself, or I could choose to experience the raw, uncomfortable emotions of life and make a difference for others.

This is a continual choice. Whenever I find myself being sucked into media, games, or anything else, I ask myself, “is it worth it?” Do I want to live my life in safety or in love? Do I want to go through life or live my life? And who will my decision affect?

As a single person with few responsibilities, it would be easy to become lost in myself. I don’t want that to happen though. My life will be shorter than I desire. I can’t afford to waste time living in safety and emotional distance. I choose to be present. And I will continue to do so until the choice is no longer mine.

Responding to Trials

Over the past year I have met 3 people that became paralyzed and then had to relearn how to walk and write and do all the things they used to do on a daily basis. I’m not sure if they all have the same disease that caused this temporary paralysis, but they had a similar experience in the suddenness of what happened and what followed. What was interesting to me though is how they responded to what happened.

One person responded by laughing about it. She laughed as she told me how interesting it was that she forgot how to hold a pencil and how strange it was to learn how to walk again. Another expressed anger and frustration over having to learn how to walk and do things again. And the last became emotional recalling her experiences and the difficulties she had faced.

I couldn’t help but think about my own trials and difficulties and how I have responded to them. I have responded in each of these ways at different times to my trials, but I think most often I probably get emotional about my experiences. I don’t think it’s bad to get emotional or even angry about what happens to us, but I would like to learn to laugh more often. I would like to respond to my trials with an attitude of learning and the ability to laugh at myself.

I firmly believe that people take life too seriously. People tend to see only the now of a situation. We get upset that things don’t seem to work out or aren’t going the way we planned. The truth is though that it really doesn’t matter. It doesn’t really matter that much if you’re late for something. It doesn’t really matter that much if an event is disturbed by some sort of accident or disruption. It doesn’t really matter if you make a mistake and someone yells at you for it. It doesn’t matter because it’s not the end.

Why do we focus so much on the now when the present will be the past in just a few minutes? The now doesn’t matter so much if we realize that it will pass. I don’t mean by this that the present isn’t important, because it is only in the present that we can create the future and the past. By our choices in┬áthe now, our past is recorded and our future will be written. However, a mistake or problem in the now does not have to be a regret in the future. By learning to overlook problems and forgive ourselves and others now, the mistakes of the present will become merely funny or interesting memories of the past.

The thing I keep telling myself lately is it’s only life. It’s not about the next step or the better job or the perfect evening; it’s about living. And if we can just remember that it’s about the living, it’s a lot easier to respond positively when something negative happens.

Spiders and our Frail Lives

It’s spider season and Halloween just passed so it is pretty much the perfect time to talk about the eight-legged creatures that so many of us despise.

I really hate spiders, but not for the reason most people do… I hate spiders because I hate killing them. I hate that I feel their life when I kill them. I hate seeing their guts. Spiders don’t scare me or gross me out, but spiders remind me how fragile life is and that’s why I hate them. A spider’s life can end in a fraction of a second and they don’t even know that it’s coming most of the time.

The same is true for us, we just don’t usually realize it. Life isn’t guaranteed. We don’t know how long we have left. We don’t know when our last day will be. So… shouldn’t we live so that if we died today, we’d have nothing to regret?

Some people say that everyone has regrets. I guess it depends on what you think of as regrets, but I have no regrets. I sometimes wish that I could have been a better person sooner, but I would have had no way of becoming a better person without having the experiences where I wish I had been better.

I think that the point of life is to love it. There is so much to love in life, but we miss it if we focus on our pasts. Our pasts are very important, but our present is what’s most important. I hope you all enjoy the present that you’ve been given and maybe next time you kill a spider think about how frail life is and live a little more.

(And this has pretty much nothing to do with autism, but oh well… sometimes you just have to speak what’s on your mind.)