From Chaos to Clarity: How Living in the Now Gives Me Direction in Life

“What gives you a sense of direction in life”.  This question gave me pause. I had to stop the moment I was living in and reflect on what had passed. I'm a person who lives their life in the moment every day. I never worried too much about the future or dwelt on the past. Instead, I focused on enjoying the present and making the most of every moment. Even the crappy moments had some humor, irony, or a lesson in them.

This way of life is normal to me. I can sit in the moment and hear the birds singing, see my dog grooming herself. In the distance, I hear my husband working in his office, and the washing machine running. I am keenly aware of the fold in my sock and the breeze coming in from the window. I am in the moment, however short the moments are for me.

In a moment, I can see that a plant needs watering, or suddenly, I want to talk to my mother. I put down my coffee to go do something, and the coffee moment has passed. Never to return the same way again. This can be a downside to living in the moment. Some call it ADHD. For me, it's my day-to-day life. Some would say it causes me to miss moments of life, and in some contexts, they are correct. I may have missed a moment of someone else's life while living my own. As a child, I was labeled lackadaisical. This description is, in reality, far from the truth. I am passionate and enthusiastic. It's just not seen by others the same way, or perhaps others just can't be in the moment I am in. It's my paradise, my zen, my now. I suppose the other label of marching to the beat of my own drum fits well too.

Despite my carefree attitude and appearance, I still have a sense of direction in life. If you had asked the young me who, what, where I would be in 50 years, my answers would have been nothing like the life I actually lived. I had no grand plans when I was in my mid-life. That time was also lived in the moment. A rough plan of where I was going was made, and action to make it happen was implemented, often with only rough planning. Little concern about if it would work out or not. This led to many adventures. Some pleasant, some not. I didn't have a grand plan or a specific goal I was working towards when I was younger. I just knew I was living my life, raising my family, getting what needed to be done, completed. I did always have a guiding principle that helped me navigate the world, to live in the moment, and love the people around me. My husband and I made that pact long ago, that if our lives took us to the depths of dark times, we would still love each other and be happy in the moment because we have each other and the kids. To us, that is paramount. We did live through some very unpleasant things, like being homeless and bankrupt. Moments that we lived that passed more slowly, unlike the joyful ones. We still looked at each other and our children, regretting nothing. We forged ahead on new moments and new paths. When a moment wasn't so joyful, it gave me motivation to change the scenery, or the path or the plan, if I even had one.

For me, my guiding principle is to always follow my passions and do what brings joy. This can sometimes run amuck easily. Whenever I was faced with a decision or a crossroads, I paused and asked, “What would bring me and my family the most joy in that moment?” This has especially become clear as I age and realize our moments are limited. We don't know when it will be our last. Milestones, such as buying homes or changing jobs, can be tricky when living in the moment. I always joked that I should have just been a nomad because I always enjoy moving on.

Sometimes, this has led me and my family down unexpected paths. For instance, when we decided to quit our jobs, sell the family home, and pursue dreams of owning a bumper boat arcade in Mexico. That was a grand adventure. We simply took a year to plan out the location, and we had amazing trips and fun while researching it. It was all so romantic and magical in the moments that we lived it. Other times, it simply meant choosing to spend a lazy afternoon watching a movie with my kids or a trip to the beach instead of running errands or taking care of chores. Then there were the dark moments when we had to face adversity resulting from decisions made or life events and world events. Adverse events like being robbed or having our dreams smashed in a truck upon delivery. Moments that were filled with what seemed like endless sadness. I learned that joy isn't a moment that is constant. You have to have the sadness and pain to feel and understand the joyful moments and appreciate them.

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Many of my friends and family often marveled and watched with concern at my ability to live so freely and in the moment while still feeling fulfilled and purposeful. They see the joy and passion I bring to things I've done, from cooking a meal to exploring a new country to live in, and it inspires them to try to incorporate more of that spirit into their own lives.

As the years have passed, my guiding principle continues to serve me well. I've had my share of ups and downs, but I've always found my way back to what brings me joy and keeps me grounded in the present. Being flexible and open-minded to change has been a key factor in living in the moment. I still do not know where I will be in five years. My answer is always “It depends.” Life changes, and so will I.

And so, my life is a testament to the power of living in the moment and following your passions. It shows that even without a grand plan or a set destination, you can still find direction in life by simply focusing on what brings you joy and fulfillment in each moment.


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