We went to watch one of the kids’ preschool teachers play hockey last night (yes SHE IS THAT AWESOME), and I was mesmerized by the sounds of ice scraping, the puck smashing into the wall, and the players yelling to one another between labored breaths. I hadn’t been to a hockey game in a long time, and there was something about the pace of the game – the constant shifting as players went on and off the ice – that felt so “present.”
I think I was particularly struck by this last night because I don’t always feel present in my life right now. My mind skips to work when I’m with my kids and it drifts to my kids when I’m at work. It meanders to future blog posts when I’m in spin class, and I sometimes check the yoga schedule when I’m mid-conversation with my husband. Time and thoughts are fluid these days, and as much as I wonder if I’d feel more at peace if they were more carefully delineated, they’re just not right now. I don’t know if they ever will be. Despite what productivity experts lead us to believe, life is messy and orderly and crazy and beautiful at the same time.
Watching the players skate across the ice last night made me think that the way to be more present isn’t to be more present in every single moment. That’s just way too much pressure. But it is about finding the “hockey moments” – the narrow (or broad, if you’re lucky) slices of time where you can be 100% in the moment. Where you can find your flow and lose track of time “until the bell rings.” For this beautiful teacher, her moments are on the ice. For a dear friend of mine, it’s when she’s doing crafts with her daughter. For another friend, it’s cooking a meal. For me lately, it’s writing these posts and standing on my head (not at the same time).
The more we can find these little micro-moments that help us stay in the now, the more we’ll actually be in the now. So for me, moving from chaos to presence is about the little things adding up and becoming big things more than it’s about drastic changes or forcing focus. It’s about starting with the low-hanging fruit and building upon that, moment by moment, day by day, and year by year.
When’s the last time you were truly “in the moment?” What helps you stay in the present?
You summed this up rather well. Hockey offers precisely that experience: disconnecting from all else and completely connecting with now. Hockey moves to fast to do anything else.
The day after my mom died, we had a game. (I play with my sister and brother-in-law on a team.) I spent most the day planning on skipping the game, but as the time for the game drew near I felt a sudden need to go. I needed to be with my teammates. I needed to be on the ice pushing myself and trying my hardest to help my team win.
So, I went with my brother-in-law to the game. I was able to step on the ice and not think about anything I had experienced the day before. All of my attention and being was focus on the game. We won that game 10-1 and my teammates (who knew nothing yet of what I was going through) said I played the best they’d seen me play so far. There I was just a hockey player and not a grieving daughter. It was an escape of sorts and I was and continue to be grateful for that element hockey brings to my life.
I find these “hockey moments,” as you coined the term, essential to my well being. Along with the many relationships and responsibilities that compete for our attention I think people are also taken out of the now by too often looking toward the future or the past. While there are benefits to both those perspectives the life we’re actually living is always happening now; not two days ago or a year from now. It’s the balance of all those perspectives that I suppose is the true goal and the real challenge. “Hockey moments” make the striving for balance more fun!
wow, what a beautiful anecdote. thank you SO MUCH for sharing this!