Anthony Fleg, MD Anthony Fleg, MD

The Superpower of Being Present

What 2-Year-Olds Can Teach Us About Living With the Coronavirus

I turned to my 2-year-old daughter with a simple ask: “Can you worry about tomorrow for me?”

Blank stare.

“All I am asking is that you worry about tomorrow. Just follow the lead of us adults who make it look easy. Now, can you do that for Daddy? (Don’t you know about the latest case of coronavirus?)”

Blank stare.

Now, a quick question for all of us – how much of each day do we spend worrying about the future, particularly as it relates to coronavirus? How much of our attention is focused on tomorrow, next week, April, June, etc.?

I would  have gotten a similarly blank stare if I were to demand that my daughter worry about what happened yesterday, last week or 30 minutes ago.

Think of the children in your life, in your family. Bring their presence to mind and imagine what a wonderful superpower they possess: an inability to live anywhere but the present. Their superpower is living in the moment.

This moment – the COVID-19 chapter of our world and of our lives – implores us to be more like our children in this regard.

Being present is a wonderful thing. It relieves stress caused by focusing on failures of the past and worries of the future. Both realms are un-reachable, largely un-changeable. But at the same time, they both entice and tease our minds such that we often find ourselves everywhere but in the moment as we focus on changing what has already passed or what may (or may not) come to be.

Living as our children model so well, in the moment, has an immediate influence on our health and wellness. Tuning out the constant barrage of news about coronavirus and tuning into what is before you will bring calm, serenity and a sense that all is O.K.

It will allow you to enjoy the moment, the small pleasures our senses offer us, things that pass us by when we are lost somewhere else on the time continuum. The touch of an elder, the smell of a blossoming fruit tree, the way the wind feels against our cheek – open up to the present and it is all there for you.

Just ask the 2-year-olds.

In this time where, more than ever, we need to be there for family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and our larger community, there is no more important place to start than to work on being more present. When that phone call comes – a frantic and worried voice on the other end – they need a “you” that is grounded in what is. Not what was. Not what might come to be. But grounded in what is at that moment.

A simple ask for today – let’s re-kindle that superpower of our children. Let us put aside the constant news feeds and social media posts about a world with no TP. All of it distracts from the gift that is the present. Let us be more mindful to gently steer the thought train back to the moment when it starts to take us elsewhere.

I imagine coming to my toddler for advice, and instead of blank stare, this is what I would hear: “Dad, watch yourself breathing. Pay attention to the sensation of “being.” Fall in love with the moment you are in, because you won’t have it back.”

“Now, Dad, can you dig in the dirt with me? Play – that’s my other superpower.”

Categories: Top Stories, Patient Care, School of Medicine, Community, Education, Features, News You Can Use

Related Stories