Don't look back.
There's a lot of sentiment today about not driving by looking in the rear view mirror. Stay in the moment people say, its the here and now that counts.
All true. A reader of both The Buddha and Ram Dass I know the power of living in the moment.
Yet awareness, or presence in the moment can be helped by reflection. Its not living in the past to examine the steps we took in getting where we are today.
Reflection reminds me of that still pond early in the morning, mist rising slowly off the waters. I know whenever I come across one – usually at o'dark thirty carrying a sand wedge – it brings me peace.
When I'm not golfing I find this peace early in the am as I savor my coffee and lace my running shoes letting my mind reflect on the last 24 hours.
Reflection isn't active thought, its a feeling. I let the sensation of the last day wash over me and notice how I feel about different aspects of it. Its noticing this sense – the awareness of how different parts of my day made me feel – that I'm seeking.
Far from navel-gazing, reflection allows me to consider how my behavior led directly to my feelings so I may choose more intentionally how to go about today.
As a recovering Type A person I know full well the energy and excitement of doing things in rapid order racing from one project to the next with the odd crisis thrown in just shake up my day. HR can be like that. But this lurching from item to item, in fourth gear, tends to leave a lot of broken bodies in the wake.
People doesn't always enjoy interactions with the true Type A. Over time I've learned that the practice of reflection can help me assess in almost real time how my behavior is leading to my reality. If people are tired or worn, what part did I play in that?
- Don't like the way a meeting went? What was my part in it.
- Someone close to me hurting? How did my behavior cause that.
- Fail to make something happen in a church or civic setting? What was my role.
The nihilist will tell you it doesn't matter, that there is no meaning or hope anyway so why bother to reflect. Just push on without examining how our actions affect others. But nihilism is intellectually dishonest: if nothing matters, why show up?
What we do day to day in all the relationships we have – work, play, love – matters very much, and we are responsible for our part in that. And no, we cannot live in the past anymore then we can be sure about tomorrow.
But in preparing for the day we're about to start we can certainly use a few moments of quiet reflection to set an intention for the day. To foster behaviors that will improve the way we feel about ourselves tomorrow when we find ourselves again in quiet reflection.
So even as you live in the moment, feel free to check your mirror every now and then.
I'll see you on the back nine.