Confession: last weekend, when I was in Minneapolis to host a broadcast I had some…incidents with my electronics.
On Wednesday, I left my iPad in the Uber from MSP to my hotel. And then on Saturday I left my phone in a bathroom in Terminal 2 in SFO – which I realized after I had passed security and was at the baggage claim. My items were returned to me in both circumstances – the first by a very responsive Uber driver, the second by a good Samaritan who found the phone and brought it to the police – so all’s well that ends well.
They were both facepalm moments, and a bit embarrassing to admit to given that I travel so much and I should know better. And I had a moment of what-the-hell-is-wrong-with-me self-blame. But I think there was something much more important going on.
It’s easy to assume that we make mistakes like this because we are somehow lacking, or faulty. “Oh I’m so forgetful”. But these actions instead point to a preoccupied mind – when we can’t focus on the practicalities of living our lives in the moment, it’s because our minds are not living in the moment. And when we can’t be in the moment, we lose ourselves (and our things).
A regular mindfulness practice means that at least once a day, for 15 minutes, I’m firmly in the present. But for the other 23 hours and 45 minutes? Sometimes not so much! Incidents like these remind me that I’m often living in a state of distraction, and that this distraction has tangible repercussions.
I, like so many of us, have been chugging along and coping with the continued stress of the pandemic, the election, everything. I’ve become so accustomed to this underlying state of constant stress that it feels almost normal.
It’s not, of course, and my forgetfulness was a reminder that there is a lot going on. And that I have to acknowledge it and make sure I’m doing all I can to support myself – body and mind – as I continue to travel, to work, to exist in this unremittingly challenging time. And that when my mind is full, I need to be especially mindful.