How To Be Present (Even When Trump Is President)

Being present has been kind of a struggle for me lately.

Early on in my sobriety I learned about the concept of “smart feet”, where one essentially gets up off the couch and leaves their apartment to do the thing they know they must do, before their brains have a chance to convince them otherwise.  I try and apply that concept to getting out of bed every morning to write. So far it’s been incredibly effective.  I started writing freelance articles about two months ago and have already built up several gigs that I really enjoy.  It helped when I realized that waking up at 6.30 am each day was not, in fact, a sign of poor sleep quality, but a healthy body’s way of telling me I had had enough sleep (who knew I didn’t need 9 hours a night?)  Since then, my writing time in the mornings has doubled, and I have found myself writing more in the last two months than in my entire previous life combined.

I’m terrified of going back to the way it was before.  I used to consider myself lucky if I got two hours of writing done a week. Now I chastise myself for writing less than two hours a day.  Ever since I set an intention to finally leave my job in coffee and pursue a job in writing, I have been feeling more motivated than ever. At the same time, I find myself itching to get going in my writing career, which makes it harder for me to accept my present reality; instead of accepting when I am in the middle of the slog, I choose to live in an imagined future, where my hard work has already paid off; and I don’t have to work my day job anymore.

I heard a man say once that when he was drinking he was always in a rush, but he didn’t know where he was in a rush to go.  I find myself rushing through everything I don’t want to be doing – working out, walking to work, my day job, the dishes; and by the end of the day I ask myself, what was my favorite part of the day?  Was it the one or two moments I felt actually present?  And is it possible I could still enjoy myself while I am doing something I’d rather not be doing?

When Trump got elected, it felt like a nightmare.  There was so much fear about the next four years, about the things he would do, and the people who would be harmed.  It was tempting to look forward to the idea of 2020 when we could vote him out of office, but I made a decision not to do that.  I wasn’t going to give up four years of my life hoping a man I didn’t like would no longer be president.  I had to learn how to be happy and content in a Trump presidency, or the rest of my life would be 4 (or 8) year periods of alternating bliss and hell.  And as a result, even though things in politics have been horrendous, the last three years of my life have involved more growth and serenity than I have ever experienced before.

I don’t want to live my life dreading weekdays and praying for the weekend.  I want to find joy in the moment, and feel comfortable in my discomfort.  And the only way to do that is to be present; even if it means pulling myself from happy fantasies for the future, back to less-than-beautiful realities of the moment.  Because when I look back now, the me from 5 years ago would kill to inhabit my current reality.

It all depends on how you look at it.

-Theodore Dandy