I heard a comment from Franciscan priest Richard Rohr recently, stating that if more people could master the concept of dwelling in the present, there would be no need for the clergy. I think this may well be true, and I think it goes further than that; I believe we’d find ourselves capable of shedding all sorts of support systems if we were better at engaging moments as they come to us, and letting them go once they’re over. So many of us appear bent on reliving past moments or forecasting future ones at the expense of the present. I know I am.
I’m fourteen hours from capping off my second cruise vacation in two years. Cruises are very much about escaping. And eating. They’re much about activity. And eating. Cruises are a thousand tons of entertainment aboard a thousand ton vessel. And they’re about eating.
As a longtime struggler with anxiety, I find a cruise brings much to be anxious over. The incessant flurry of options and activity are overwhelming for me, and on each of the two occasions I’ve sailed, it took considerable time to find a rhythm that worked for me. Last year, I used medication as a tool in order to shortcut this process. This year, I relied on more natural methods. I had to restrain myself from participating in too many activities. I had to overcome my Fear Of Missing Out and be content with doing Little.
Often times, while my friends were out cruising the Caribbean islands on scooters, trying new foods, zip-lining, snorkeling, sun bathing, and buying lots and lots of cool shit, I was compelled to seek seclusion aboard the ship, where I would spend extended periods of time meditating and writing.
Oh, how that belligerent little Fear imp loves to chirp in the ear whenever I choose Little over Much!
“You’re a fool!” the Fear imp chides. “Outside this vessel is a world you’ll never see again, and look at you! You’re too weak to indulge, so you sit in this pitifully arrayed library and peck away on that damn keyboard. You’re MISSING OUT, you dumbass!”
The belligerent imp is right, of course. I have missed out. Even so, I’ve gained. For someone like me, to find his center amidst such a malaise of hyperactivity is no small feat.
Despite my choice of Little over Much, I still managed to usher in a memory or two. Likely I gained a couple pounds to go with those memories. Best of all, I genuinely connected with amazing people I’m privileged to call friends and managed to make a few new ones.