Today’s Present: A Short Story


The perpetual state of being overwhelmed had become normal for her. Things had been so different when she was a child – spoon-fed, literally and figuratively, with the challenges of life in digestible portions. She had been taught to ride her bike in gentle segments, starting with the training wheels on and a reassuring parental figure hovering cautiously nearby.

Then her confidence blossomed to the point when she could ride her bike without the training wheels. And then she turned around and found herself in her thirties and noticed with a growing sense of alarm that the reassuring parental figure had their own shit to deal with, so she just got on with riding her bike, checking the tyres every now and then for wear and tear, purchasing accident insurance and trying her best not to get knocked over by buses.

With the everyday concerns of life jostling for attention, there was little room left for her dreams. Reflecting on the past and contemplating the future felt like a vice between which the nagging concerns of the present were trapped and gagging for air. Every attempt to sift through her perpetual to do list merely emphasised her inability to focus, exacerbating her advanced mental block, and increasing her frustration. She was in a place – she was not sure where. The only thing she knew was that was not where she wanted to be.

So she found herself at a mental standstill.

And it occurred to her that this didn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing.

Standing still was the best thing that she had done for herself in – well – quite a while. It was something she quickly realised was worth practicing and becoming good at. The recognition of its value was the beginning of the art of being present. She came to appreciate the art of standing still through what had been tantamount to a breakdown – where her mind just came to a sudden halt and refused to budge, leaving her with no choice but to give herself a break.

It was also at this vulnerable stage (when she allowed herself to loosen her grip on the illusory reins) that she found herself open to discovering the possibility of her breakdown becoming her breakthrough. She began to allow her mind the space to detangle the various conundrums she had created over a period of time. She had a deep knowing at that point that her mind was more than capable of doing this – and suspected that in the absence of her resistance, that this was in fact its function.

Then when she was able to orient herself at her own centre, in the present moment, where it was possible to face her concerns, priorities and intentions objectively and fully, it was as if her point of observation had shifted to a place of inner peace and clarity. In this place she could clearly see the futility of her excuses and barriers to action. In this place she was able to distinguish the fully formed ideas from those barely nascent. In this place of stillness, there was a flow she could trust, where the ideas which were ready to flourish into being naturally rose to the surface in the form of her priorities.

In the initial stages, as she found herself in the daily practice of these inner consultations, the actions which emerged as most obvious to tackle were of the simplest practicality and seemed mundane in nature. But as one action flowed into another, and gained momentum, she began to allow the arena of possibilities to expand. It was at that point that she began to appreciate that she had started by splashing in the shallows and would end by sailing the oceans.


  1. by Andre On October 12, 2012 at 09:12

    A well written piece that seems perhaps to come from that very stillness that it discusses.

    Keep writing.
    Andre (from the cafe!)

Leave a Reply