The Here Year

I don’t have a tattoo.

But if I did, there’s no question what I would have.  It would be on the inside of my wrist, and it would be just three words:

Be here now.

Being present, being aware, and noticing my own life is arguably the central theme of this blog.  I want to be able to glimpse, worship, and be reassured by the design so vast that I know exists in this random-seeming and occasionally-painful world.  Years ago I ran a series called Present Tense, which was all about our attempts to be more present in our lives.  My friend Aidan Donnelley Rowley named the series, in fact.  It felt like a full-circle moment when she asked me to join her in her new project, The Here Year.

ADR headshot 1

Each month Aidan chooses a specific topic to explore through the lens of being here.  April was home, and May is parenthood.  I will be sharing my thoughts on each subject as the months roll on; beyond this, Aidan and I are still figuring out the particulars of what our collaboration will look like.  But I am just delighted about joining her in her Here Year.  Aidan and I met online five years ago and in the interim she’s become a very important real-world friend of mine.  It’s a privilege and an honor to have her in my life and I have enjoyed and learned tremendously from all of our interactions, whether on-line, on the phone, or in person.

Presence – what it really means and both the cost of not inhabiting it as well as the value of doing so – has been a preoccupation of mine for a long, long time.   A post I wrote four years ago, My Real Life Had Already Begun, remains one of my all-time favorites.  I have written at length – ad nauseum, even – about all the various techniques humans use to avoid really engaging with their lives.  Some of these are toxic and others on the surface look “healthy.”  For me, at least, the avoidance behavior was accomplishment: by focusing on the next brass ring I could avoid living here now.  It sounds so simple, really experiencing my own life.  But it wasn’t and it still isn’t.

Sometimes when I talk about being present people seem to think that I mean loving every single moment of every day, never being aggravated or having to do the laundry, never having kids fighting or needing to get up too early.  That’s not what I mean.  I mean literally being there for my life.  And let me be clear, there’s plenty I don’t like about it – there are tears and tantrums, regrets and exhaustion, and more kinds of messes than I can enumerate – but I do love it.  And I only really understood how much I loved my own life after I started noticing all of its facets.  And to do that I had to take my eyes off of the horizon, in order to see what was right in front of me.

What was I hiding from?  What are we all avoiding?  What comes up when we are present?  That’s different for each of us.  For me it’s impatience, and frustration, and surprising swells of sorrow, and, also, thankfully, a deep, abiding joy in the tiniest things.  Most of all, what I have to reckon with, every single day, is the unavoidable fact of life’s transience.  No matter what I do, I can’t stop time.  That is the black hole around which my life swirls, and everything I do is tinged with its color.

I’ve made enormous changes to the way I live in the world in the last several years.  Many of those changes have been in support of being more present to and in my own life, but I know that this effort is a long-term endeavor.  I’m so looking forward to joining Aidan as she explores specific aspects of presence.  I can’t way to be a part of her Here Year.

To celebrate this new collaboration, Aidan and I are hosting a Twitter party today, Wednesday May 14, from 4-5pm ET.  Please join us!  The hashtag is #TheHereYear and we’ll be talking about presence, parenthood, and life, and anything else that comes up!


17 thoughts on “The Here Year”

  1. You know how excited I am about this. I can’t tell you how right this feels, to be asking these questions WITH you… Really, it’s a continuation of a conversation we’ve been having for a long time now. I vividly remember talking to you years ago. I was on my cell phone and at a frozen yogurt store and I asked some insanely vast questions, like, “Do you think the purpose of melancholy is to make us feel happiness more deeply when it comes? Don’t you think storms and clouds make a blue sky more exquisite?” Oh my.

    Anyway, thrilled to do this and see what it becomes. And pumped for our party this afternoon chez Twitter. Even if it’s just the two of us jabbering away, it will be fun, right?


  2. What exciting news! I have been following Aidan for a long time now thanks to your recommendation and so enjoy reading her thoughts. What a perfect collaboration. I can’t wait to read more. I know exactly what I do to avoid being here and I have done it in spades over the past few months. I volunteer. Recently, I volunteered to be president of our schools Home and School Association. Really. I love the work and I am learning a lot but I am also setting goals that will make this a personal growth experience as well. It was the only way I could feel ok about after realizing that I taken on more than I should have in my classic way of avoiding the here…. More to come, I am sure!

  3. Congrats, Lindsey! I love what you said: “I had to take my eyes off of the horizon, in order to see what was right in front of me.”

    I recently finished reading STILL ALICE by Lisa Genova and it has struck me over and over since turning the final page at how the topic, Alzheimer’s, puts that person completely in the moment. There is no more that the person can do. It is one of the most life-affirming books I’ve ever read, and I wept. Beautiful.

    Thank you for always tackling this topic of being there in our lives. They are truly gifts. So are you. xo

  4. I have been reading these posts at Aidan’s place. This may even inspire me to start blogging again.

  5. Heidi Oran shared something that she had read about centering yourself i the present moment. The exercise involved closing your eyes and feeling the energy in your fingertips. You both do that with you writing—give us space and buffers to pause and consider the moment.

    It’s an exquisite gift. Thank you.

  6. I read this post of yours and kept nodding my head in agreement. This sounds wonderful, Lindsey. I’m truly excited to see what the two of you come up with. xoxo

  7. I am in my fifties, experiencing the same struggles to be here, in the present tense, and wishing I had started sooner. The busy years as a working mom flew by and so often I was not there. But it’s never too late to stop and take notice. It’s what I write about in my books and at HuffPost and on my blog. I love your collaboration and look forward to tweeting later today. Keep reminding us all to be Here.

  8. Wow, Lindsey, this sounds like a wonderful idea and collaboration! I just went to Aiden’s blog and now I’m hooked. Thanks for introducing me to another heartfelt writer. I look forward to seeing how you both wade through these topics each month.

  9. I have been a long time reader of both “A Design So Vast” and “Ivy League Insecurities.” To say that I admire both you and Aidan is an understatement so you can imagine my sheer delight that you will be doing this project together – oh joy!! I readily identify with so much of what you both write about — here, in particular, how you used to numb yourself from really engaging in your life through the seeking of greater and greater accomplishments. I have done the same thing, although having a child has forced me to stand still for a time. Thank you so much for this collaberation! And, if I were on Twitter, I would definitely join you both, but alas, it’s the one social media place that I have not yet ventured forth to — I’m so sorry.

  10. Great campaign! Love how us like minded folks find one another. Looking forward to reading along.

  11. I love this Lindsey! As you know, I’m trying hard to me more “in the moment’ and present in my life. At times I feel I’m becoming obsessed with the topic but there could be worse things, right? I love that you are doing this with Aidan and can’t wait to read all the goodness.

    I was nodding too, Jessica! 🙂

  12. I love seeing the fruit of your friendship turn into something so incredibly life affirming. This project is absolutely awesome and I find myself learning so much from what you two are working through. I find myself trying my best to mirror some of what you write on here in my own life. And I thank you both for inspiring so much reflective energy in me. After reading posts like this I find myself determined to find at least a couple of genuine present moments in my life. Because I definitely have felt that unfortunate phenomenon where a week has gone by and I can’t remember most of it.

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