This is the cupboard next to our sink where we keep our plates. As you can see, there are two kinds of plates. We have two kinds of plates because when Kristen and I got engaged (22 years ago!) we registered for gifts and I learned that you should have two set of dishes: everyday dishes, and then THE FINE CHINA, which a) I don’t think is made in China and b) is for SPECIAL occasions. You know, like when you’re celebrating or commemorating something significant.
And then we got married and people actually gave us these two kinds of plates and I learned that you use the everyday plates everyday and the THE FINE CHINA comes out two or three times a year maybe and otherwise it just doesn’t get noticed. Until you’re moving and you ask Why do we have all these extra plates?
So that was what I knew about those plates until something changed for me in the summer of 2000. I hit my head waterskiing and got a closed head injury, which slowed my brain way, way down and I had to be reintroduced to my life. Literally, I had to ask Kristen to tell me about our kids and my job and where we met-it was both terrifying and surreal and illuminating, because all my brain could handle was the present. It didn’t have capacity to think much about the past-which is where regret comes from-and it didn’t have much space to think about the future, which is where worry comes from.
Because of the concussion I could only be present in the moment, and the moment wasn’t just enough, it was more than enough. It was too much. It was like all of life was plugged in and on fire and humming with vitality.
It took about a week for my head to go back to normal, and yet something had changed. I was so busy and stressed during that time in my life but during that week I tasted what’s it like to be fully present, and I wanted to live like that all the time. Not just when I was sitting still looking out the window, but when I was stuck in traffic and returning emails and running errands and gong to meetings and doing all the things that make use feel so rushed and distracted.
Ever feel like that? Like your life is full and busy but you’re also moving too fast and all over the place instead of just being here and nowhere else?
So I set out to learn how to live in the present moment without distraction or unnecessary stress. And that’s when I started using THE FINE CHINA everyday. Because we only have today. We have no idea what tomorrow will bring. And there are these little things we can do in the course of an average day to feel more and more grounded and centered.
Like we’re here, and no where else.