And, what to do about it so you are.
Big weekend plans were looming, with house-guests and an event that’s been a year in the planning. Everything coming together. Ticking off the to-do list, with still-needing-to-be-done phone calls and emails and conversations rolling around in my head and a ball of nerves in my gut. But, I’m gettin’ it done. I think.
A couple days beforehand I head to the grocery store to get stocked up, and I take time to fill a beautiful cart with necessities and delectables including a lush mint plant. I smile as I picture serving fresh mint water to my guests.
I get to the cash register. “Oh, I don’t have my wallet,” I say, with a bit of a panic rushing into my voice as I dig through my purse. It's never not in my purse.
“Is it in your car?” the helpful cashier asks. I try to think of the last time I used it. The mind is blank. But wait, I can write a check. I forget about my checkbook because who writes checks anymore.
“Yes,” she says. So I write the check. “Oh, but I need your ID,” she says sweetly.
“It’s in my wallet,” I say flatly. (sorry but adverbs are kind of key in this story) Meanwhile, I’m answering texts and she’s bagged up my gorgeous groceries into my favorite shopping bag (it has lemons on it so you get how special it is). Seriously, I feel like Martha Stewart with my perfect bag of yummy goods, with the mint leaves cascading over the top. So, I run out to my car to look, while she holds the line for me.
Sure enough, there’s the wallet, sitting lazily on the front seat.
Out of breath, I pay for the groceries, while the lovely people in line behind me wait patiently. The cashier tells me to have a better day and I roll the cart happily to my car, my lemon bag bouncing along inside the cart. One more thing to check off my list. I start the car and drive off, my head already at home, making dinner and following up on stuff for the event.
I pull into the driveway, and you’ve probably guessed, I left that gorgeous bag of groceries. In the cart. In the parking lot. Twenty minutes away. Of course, I sit in my driveway and call the store. After five minutes someone finally answers (seriously five minutes) and the woman, her name was Angel (truly), is so kind and looks all over that parking lot and store for my pretty lemon-enhanced bag. Of course, it's not there.
I was so mad! First and foremost at myself. How could I do that? I mean, I was really beating myself up. What an idiot! What a waste of time and money! Then, I got mad at whoever took it. Couldn't they see what a special bag it was and that it surely meant something to the person who owned it? I mean, who does that?
And, then that’s when I took a breath. Who does that? Who takes a bag of groceries that clearly someone forgot?
Someone who needs it, that’s who. I have to believe that my beautiful bag of deliciousness went home with someone who could really use it. A friend of mine said, “Someone who didn’t need the groceries would have rolled the cart back into the store so that whoever left them could come back and get them.” She’s so right. Another friend shed a beautiful light on it when he said, “You made a donation to someone you don’t know and will never receive thanks for it. How great is that?” He’s also right. He now asks, “Did you stop at the store where you made a donation?” I love that.
It got me thinking about how un-present I was. I wasn’t at all present. In my head, I was 20 miles and three days away from that parking lot when I got into the car and drove off.
Then, get this. The next morning I put on my makeup. Twice. I was 10,000 miles away from my bathroom, in some other mental stratosphere adding to my to-do list. So I applied my makeup a second time, not realizing it until I was almost done. Sure, my makeup looked great, but I was a mess. Later the same day I walked off and left my keys at the office.
I. Was. Not. Present. Not even in the vicinity of being in the Now.
There's an even deeper reveal here - the real lesson - not only was I not being present with myself and what was in front me, I wasn’t being mindful. At all. My head wasn't in the game, which never results in a winning proposition. And it only makes sense that if I'm not being mindful while putting groceries in my car and putting on my makeup, where else am I being mind-less?
Being mindful is the action of being present. To be deliberate and mindful in all of one’s actions is to be fully present, in the now.
So, my friends, learn from my stumble… Here's how I came back.
Take a moment - just stop.
Pay attention - to what's in front of you.
Get present - not tomorrow, a week from now, or 10 minutes away. Get in the here and now.
And, be mindful. Mindful while making coffee, mindful while eating, mindful while paying for groceries and loading in the car, mindful in conversations and relationships and most importantly, be mindful with yourself. Really pay attention to each action and moment.
Be mindful toward every thing and everything.
Oh, and when I went back to the store - because I still had to stock up - I asked for a new bag with lemons on it, 'cause it's still my favorite. And, when I told the cashier what had happened to the previous one, just because it made a good story, she gave it to me for free. Actually she gave me two. So, I'm thinking I made out on that deal, mindfully.