Living in the Moment

from maria ressa's aptly titled blog, "brave new world."

Maria Ressa

One of the things I love about being a reporter is when you land in a new city, you’re forced to really live in the moment, particularly if you’ve never been there before. All your senses are alive because it’s new. Your heart throbs because not only are you on deadline, you have a whole society to explore and learn.

As the years went by, that feeling of discovery and truly being alive subsided because I got to know the cities I reported from – where to stay, where to eat, where to hang out, where to find the news. They became part of my habit so I started tuning out.

That’s why travelling and physically moving house every now and then is essential. Too often, as we get older, we stop really looking, stop really listening, stop living in the moment. We get in the car. We drive to work. We barely look at the people we run into. We’re barely alive because we’re thinking of future tasks and future deadlines.

As we get older, life adds layers to our core selves – some necessary, some not; some materialistic, some metaphysical. Your house, your car, your furniture, your clothes – signs of how you look at yourself and how the world looks at you. The layers you add to protect yourself from betrayal, from intrusions into your private life, from hurt – well, somehow we learn to add those layers to protect ourselves. Anyone who handles power or authority has to deliver bad news, play corporate games — and as we get older, you just can’t allow yourself to feel everything you felt when you were young.

But why not?

That’s part of the reason I moved to Singapore. I decided to go back to basics and try to peel away some of those layers. I wanted to listen to myself. No other agenda but to learn and to live in the moment.

That means stripping out the noise. So no high-priced condominium which insulates you from the the wear and tear of daily life. I decided to do something I’d wanted to do for years: live in an HDB flat. HDB stands for housing development board – it’s public-subsidized housing, and more than 80% of Singaporeans live in HDB flats. I wanted to see how Singaporeans live.

I didn’t get a car. I took public transportation – MRT, buses – so efficient, and riding them made me realize how I missed watching people. Let’s face it – spending 99% of your time inside the ABS-CBN compound doesn’t allow you much people watching time. Everyone knows you and you know them, particularly if you’re the boss.

I missed the kindness of strangers – like when I saw 6 people give up their seats to older folks inside the mrt. It makes you feel good about the human race. (And made me think that Singapore’s public service ads plastered everywhere work).

There’s a wonderful sense of community. Outside my building is a central area built into the plan for public housing – a kid’s playground, an exercise area, a basketball court, an open circular area for barbecues. It is a vibrant community – multicultural because every building represents the racial breakdown – 75% Chinese, 14% Malay, 9% Indian, the rest Eurasians and others.

For nearly two weeks, I was vibrantly alive as I counted how many stops to get off, looked around new areas and discovered new places. Then as I developed a routine, I felt myself starting to slip into the past or the future – my attention was no longer in the moment. When I recognized it, I thought that’s part of life. We discount what we know.

Nothing beats the thrill of living in the moment. Once you get there, it affects everything else and reminds you why you want to stay there. It allows you to put your life in perspective – become more self-aware – and to pay tribute to the people and the places that are important to you.

When I returned to my apartment in Manila, everything felt new. I felt different, and my relationships benefitted from that. I was no longer taking things for granted. I was energized – looking at the world through fresh eyes.

Last February, I wrote about how reunions with loved ones can rejuvenate. Travel and staying in the moment is another way of doing that. Again, one of my very favorite quotes from TS Eliot: “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”

That, folks, is the story of our lives!

source: brave new world

"A life lived in the moment is a life lived fully." - Maria Ressa

No comments: