I was sitting in the back of my car, without wearing the seat belt, busy talking to my manager regarding the upcoming cricket summer camp I was planning to kick off. Little did I know, in a matter of a few moments, I would be in for a rude shock. For reasons unknown, my driver crashed into the median and hit the electric pole. The impact was so hard that I was tossed on to the back of the front seat, face first.
It was a massive crash and I had to be pulled out of the car by passers-by. The traffic came to a halt. I was bleeding heavily through my nose and there was excruciating pain in my head. I was scared, shocked, worried and confused–all at the same time. I managed to gather myself while a good Samaritan offered to inform my family.
In the state of utter confusion, fear and anxiety, my mind started throwing up all kinds of thoughts and questions –the damage caused to my car, the summer camp, medical expenses, the period of recovery, the valuables kept in the car, and the scariest of all, the thought of dying. I felt like I was stuck in the middle of an ocean not knowing which way to go.
I decided to counsel myself. All the things I was worried about my car, my things, and my work, would be taken care of in due course. But one thing wouldn’t wait–my health. I had to focus on getting myself immediate medical attention. Somehow, I got the valuables put away in the back of the car and found myself seated in an auto-rickshaw in the next few seconds.
It seemed like the 20-minute ride to the hospital would never end. Thoughts started crowding my mind again. I was very aware of my racing heart. The pain in my body kept increasing, as fear gripped me hard. And, the thought of death didn’t seem to leave me. I felt helpless.
Just then, in an aptly dramatic moment, something struck me. I had played sports all those years. My experience of playing and coaching sportsmen began to surface. “Control the controllable” and “stay in the present moment” are two of the most used phrases in sports. I instantly knew that my thoughts pertaining to the accident, money, car, work and even the possibility of death, belonged in the future. At that moment, I only had to respond to the present.
I have learnt, life unfolds itself in the present. And yet, we often let the present slip away, allowing time to rush past unobserved and unseized, squandering away the precious moments of our lives while we worry about the past and the future. When at work, we fantasise about being on vacation; while on vacation, there’s the worry about piled-up backlog at the office. We dwell on memories from the past and fret about the future. What we don’t do is appreciate the present.
We get opportunities–big and small–in everyday life. In order to tap into them, it is critical to train the mind to cut out the clutter of thoughts, focussing on the present. The key to enjoying life is living in the moment. Not to say, it’s equivalent to zoning out or being in over your head. Instead, it is about focussing less on what’s going on in the mind and more on what’s going on in the room you are sitting in.