It seems like they both come at us in waves - we find ourselves in periods of beauty that make us feel sky high, only to be dragged back down to earth, landing in a pile of shit.
These ups and down are natural and inevitable, and I know that without the darkness we'd never, really, truly be able to appreciate the happy glow of the light.
But while we're there, in the beauty or the shit or some place in-between, we often struggle to see the big picture.
When we're in the shit it's so easy to feel overwhelmed and make rash decisions. We’re angry, emotional, and unsettled, so we forget that there is still beauty.
When we're in the beauty we too often take it for granted. We enjoy the moment, but tend to forget that our future will hold even more beautiful moments, or that the shit will inevitably return.
Lately, I've confronted an internal battle between the mindfulness of now and the big picture that can be so unknown. I appreciate the fact that it's best to stay present, to accept my emotions as they are and for whatever they are, instead of allowing them to overtake me. It's always best to live in the moment rather than constantly wonder and worry about the future.
But I also think there is some value in taking a broad look forward, and even backward, from time to time.
Imagine you're fully within the shit. Difficult changes, bad decisions, work stress, struggling with people coming and going in your life. You might actually be somewhere in there right now so you don’t have to even imagine it. I'm there from time to time myself, we all are, more than most of us choose to admit.
Being present in that shit is a terrible place to be. As we try to mindfully accept and process our feelings rather than let them overtake us, that acceptance can make us feel even more shitty. Like it’s the new norm - this is it, learn to live with it.
On the other hand, imagine you're fully within the beauty. You're surrounded by good friends, smiling faces, beautiful vistas, and experiencing life altering inspirational events. You might actually be there right now so you don't even have to imagine it. I've been here a lot lately.
But even while we're there we don't always appreciate it. Acknowledging the fact that the shit is still out there and will inevitably return, doesn't have to take you out your moment of beauty, instead it gives you the gift of gratefulness. Acknowledging that there are more unimaginable moments of beauty yet to come in your life, encourages you to chase that beauty in all your decisions, to find your better life.
The idea of not being present in these types of moments actually gives me solace, and not in some escapist way. I look back at all the shit I've experienced in life and realize that this terrible thing, like all things, will eventually pass. I look back at all the beauty I've experienced and realize that this beautiful thing, like all things, will come around again. I look at the big picture - the entirety of both beauty and shit in my life - past, present, and future - and I feel grateful for having gone on the ride.
I realize this idea contradicts some of what I've said about being "present" on this blog, but I'm not one to stand still. Just as we move forward in life, through both beauty and shit, our mind and our heart and our spirit moves forward as well, learning from it all.
There's something wonderful about thinking of the big picture like this and using it to your advantage. It makes your present moment a bit more...chill.
If it’s a beautiful moment, seeing the big picture helps you avoid that nostalgic melancholy feeling you get when it’s over. If it’s a shitty moment, the big picture makes your problems seem a little smaller, a little more manageable. From either position in life, the big picture helps you learn how to better appreciate both the beauty and the shit for what they are - just another one of the many moments that together make up you.
In this way, looking at the big picture rather than always shrinking everything down to the right now, is just another form of mindfulness. It helps you to accept and observe and process your emotions, instead of wallowing in them until they make you feel worse.
Mindfulness isn't just about being present and leaving it at that, it's also about seeing the big picture and understanding that this present right here, it too shall pass.
I want to blend both the mindfulness and the big picture together. In a way that helps me stay chill during the angry moments and feel appreciation during the amazing moments. In a way that helps me drop the things that hold me back like worry, doubt, and regret. In a way that helps me accept both the beauty and the shit. In a way that, in the end, makes me a better person.