Every morning my husband and I take our dog for a walk before breakfast. It is our routine and allows me to clear my mind and focus my entire morning thereafter on my clients. We always take the same route. Our dog is jumpy around other dogs. We try and keep her to a route that is less popular with dog walkers.
We often see an older lady who walks alone, always with purpose, and we believe that she lives in the residential home along our route. She is always smiling and always wishes us a good morning and compliments us on how pretty our dog is and how nice I look (bless her!). We cross paths briefly and never stop for any kind of conversation beyond the same pleasantries.
This morning, she said her usual stuff about the dog being pretty and telling us both how nice we looked – but she also added that it was good that it wasn’t raining. We agreed, and we moved on as always.
Less than 15 minutes later, we saw her again. As we approached she complimented us on our dog and how nice we both looked and then added that it was good that it wasn’t raining.
I had often thought that she was someone who struggled with her memory. But this morning it became clear that she has no short term memory whatsoever.
We walked on and commented to each other how very sad it was. And then we carried on with our day.
By late morning I will admit to having a moment of self-doubt. The entrepreneurial, self employed journey is not one that is without its bumps in the road even for Coaches! I found myself briefly lost in the past and adrift in the uncertainty of the future.
The lady came to my mind then and I found myself looking at her situation through a completely different lens.
There is unquestionably a great deal of distress and sadness that comes with short term memory loss.
But there is also a beauty in the fact that for this woman, who has lived a long life, likely filled with great love and happiness and a good measure of worry and stress and heartache, each moment is brand new.
Every time she sees my dog, she sees her for the first time. She experiences that rush of cuteness that we have long since taken for granted, every time she see her.
Her life isn’t easy
Now I know that there are many ways in which this woman’s life is now challenging. And the heartbreak it must cause for those who love her is beyond comprehension for many of us. The frustration that she must herself feel is devastating.
But in my moment of self doubt and the resulting misery of worrying about the future and lamenting the past, I could see that living just in the present moment is a wonderful blessing. And one that we can actually choose as healthy individuals.
We have the choice to determine whether we are going to be hi-jacked by our pasts or taken hostage by the prospect of our futures. We do have the option to decide that we will live in the present moment.
Learning to set aside our worries about the future. Understanding that we can do nothing to change the past. We have to accept that the only thing we can do is to be our best selves right now.
A powerful reminder
I have a huge amount of affection for this lady and by the smile on her face every time I see her, I can tell that she is happy in her world. She walks confidently around where I live so she knows where she is and where she is going. And I know that there are people waiting for her to return and ready to spring into action should she not return.
But from today, she has become more than just a friendly face for me. She is now a powerful reminder that I need to keep myself focussed in the present.
I would never wish any form of memory loss on a single person, and I would never make light of something so very sad.
But if in encountering someone who has this challenge, it can inspire me to try to inspire you to live more for the present moment, then I believe that it is a message worth sharing.
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