“The trouble is you think you have time.” ~Buddha
When I first read this quote after graduating from college, I fell headfirst into a tailspin of “do it now, do it now, do it now.”
I had to travel the world, while doing yoga, and learning Spanish, and hiking the PCT, and living in different cities, and building my resume, and reading every book ever written.
With every check I put next to an item on my bucket list, I found ten new things that pulled me different directions. I tried to do it all and ironically, felt like I got nowhere. I was so frantically searching for my place and planning my next step that I often neglected where I was.
I was trying to protect myself from feeling regret for not having experienced life to its fullest, but I was so busy doing this that I missed a lot on the way.
The reality is that in the present moment there is nothing to protect myself from; it is the safest place to be.
I began to look at the quote from a different perspective.
There are things that I can put on my to do list—take voice lessons, read that book, bake that cake, run more, practice more. There will always be more to do. However, there are also things I can do to live the life I want to live right now: love, let go, be a good friend, take care of myself.
I do not have time to be paralyzed by the thought of everything I want to do. Now is the time to take baby steps to achieve small goals and put big goals into action.
Now is the time to go on an adventure. It doesn't have to be traveling around the world; just something that makes your heart sing.
Now is the moment to be grateful and step outside and listen to the birds chirping.
Now is the time to let go of fear and allow ourselves to be free.
Now is the time to love.
There is no arrival point. There is no point in the future where there will be more time for self-love, for compassion, or for service.
Now is the time to make decisions not based on what I feel I should be doing, but rather what makes me happy, because when I am happiest, I am able to best love and support the people around me.
And I am happiest when I slow down to appreciate the little things, because in the end it is the little things that create a beautiful life.
I strive to check things off my to-do list, but in slowing down I allow myself to appreciate the space in between.
In yoga, the space in between postures is just as important as the postures themselves, but it often gets neglected. So it is in life; I focus so much on my next step that I forget to enjoy the journey and admire the beauty of where I am.
There is never going to be a perfect time to do everything I want, but by working little goals into my day-to-day life, I can focus on the little things and be patient and trust the big things will come.
I can celebrate achievements on a big scale (“I lived in Peru for four months!”) and on a small scale (“I didn’t eat added sugar for a week!” “I taught my first yoga class!”)
My newest goal is to be patient, grateful, and open to taking each day as it comes. I will not throw my time away, but I will not fear its passing.
Is it possible I won't get to do all the big things I want to do? Sure, that's possible for all of us. But if we do the little things that bring us joy each day, and choose to be fully present and engaged in each moment, there will be nothing to regret.
Woman riding bike image via Shutterstock