At the beginning of the year, I proclaimed 2009 to be the year of “Here, Now, and Me.” Now that the first month of this project has come and gone, it seems like a good time for a mini-assessment of how it’s going so far.

First off, it’s been really good having a theme for the year. It’s given me an immediate gauge to help me decide whether I’m going in the right direction or getting off track. All I have to do is ask myself two simple questions:

  1. Is thinking about or doing X, Y, or Z living in the here and now? and
  2. Is X, Y, or Z what I really want?

For example, I was recently faced with the option of maybe applying for a new position. Even before the opportunity arose, I was giving it a lot of thought. At that point, I reminded myself to live in the here and now and not in the vague future that this opportunity might present if it all worked out. Once the opportunity did (at least theoretically) come along, I asked myself if it was really what I wanted to spend my time doing. Would doing that job really be my passion. It could be someday or in the right circumstances, but for right now it isn’t. Once I came to that realization, I felt really good about ignoring the opportunity. I could see changing my mind at some point, but for right now I’m happy with the decision I’ve made.

Having a theme so far this year has also helped me make a couple of other decisions. I’m currently the secretary for our Faculty Senate. This year I’m up for reelection to the senate and, if I want, to the secretary position. The past couple of weeks have been full of meetings and other responsibilities associated with my position in the senate. I enjoy doing this work, and I like being a part of things and knowing what’s really going on. But I started to feel that I need to reassess how much time it takes to do this job. So, I started thinking through my two questions and decided that I don’t think I want to run for reelection as secretary or as a senator. I’ve done my part. Now it’s time for someone else to do this work. It’s not where my real interests and passions are.

One more example: I have a dear friend with whom I’ve been really close for about 16 years. Our friendship is changing a little as a result of changes in his life. At first, I was far too absorbed in thinking about these changes and what I was feeling about them. It was taking up too much of my time and energy and was ultimately resulting in me feeling depressed a lot. I don’t like change in general, and these changes felt like they were causing the end of something that had been really important to me for most of the last two decades.

But over the last week or so, I’ve been applying my new outlook to the situation. Whenever I’m thinking about that relationship, I remind myself to live in the here and now and to think about what I really want. The reality of the here and now is that this friendship still exists — we’re still close — but that we’re unlikely to ever be as close as I previously felt we were. As my friend’s life changes, it’s changed our friendship in ways that probably aren’t ever going to be like they were before. But so what? We’re still friends and I still love him very much. Furthermore, I’m learning that I don’t really need as much from that friendship as I thought I did. I don’t need this friend to make me feel special or important. I can let it (and a lot things associated with it) go and still be happy.

Overall, I’m really trying to just live for the now. I’m spending a lot less time thinking about what might be or what was. If I catch myself thinking about the future or the past, I break out the questions and try to figure out what’s really going on in the here and now. What is it that this friendship seemed to give me? Where am I going to find that in the here and now? What is the friendship really now? Is this job or activity something I really want to do now? Or am I just lost in a fantasy of what it could lead to later? What job(s) do I want to do now? How do I want to spend my time and energy? What do I want? Where am I going to find that? What can I do now to make that happen (even if that won’t be for a long time)?

I think this project has really improved my mood lately. I feel more in control of my life. I also feel that I can change my life if I don’t like what’s in the here and now. I’m not stuck or frozen in place. If I want something, I do something today to start moving towards it, if I can’t just get it right now.

The songs of the week have also been fun. They haven’t all specifically reflected any particular mood, but little bits and pieces of them have been helpful reminders of my overall theme.I try to listen to the song of the week whenever I feel that I’m getting off track. If nothing else, they’re a helpful vehicle for reminding me to stop and work through my questions to assess what I’m thinking, feeling, and doing.

What I haven’t been able to do is to keep up the Ganesha notebook. That only lasted a couple of weeks before I just lost the time to write everything I did each day. Maybe I’ll try to just write down the highlights on a weekly basis or something like that.

So, month 1 of “Here, Now, and Me” is going well. It’s been good to start identifying what I want. What I want now and what I want in my future (and what I’m going to do now to get there). If it feels right, I’ll assess how things are going again early next month. Or maybe I’ll write about it less frequently. Either way, it’s been a good so far.