Dr. Jeffrey VanWingen

Living in the Now, One Step at a Time

Eighth in a series.

I’m letting Picture a Conversation cards inspire this ongoing series of essays. Martin took this photo at Mt. Baldhead Park Trail in  Saugatuck Michigan.  There are 302 steps in all. One way.

If I hadn’t mastered it before, though I was getting there day by day, thought by thought, Corona/Covid-19 is teaching me nothing so much as to live in the moment.  When will this “hunkering down” end? I don’t know. What will it feel like to go into a store and not feel edgy around people? I don’t know. Will there be a vaccine? When will I see my childen again, hold my granddaughter Oliva and her newborn sister? I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.  

All I know is the present moment. Right here, right now. My fingers are on the keyboard. I am hoping that by the end of this missive, I will have left my readers with a bit of light, comfort perhaps and/or confidence that we will meet again soon, joyously and gratefully.

Those in recovery are intimate with a way of moving through life that others might not be — staying in the present moment, taking each moment, each day, each breath sometimes, one at a time. There is nowhere to be but in the here and now.  How much time and energy and moments of our lives have we devoted to worrying what will happen? Or resentful and self-righteous over what did happen, once upon a time? Why couldn’t we have learned this or that lesson sooner? Instead of now, so many years down the pike? Because now is all we have. Now is when the lessons can be learned. They weren’t learned yesterday and we can’t learn them tomorrow until tomorrow morphs into its own now.

This pandemic forces us to do what we could not or would not do easily. Making my bed, which I have always done, is now done slowly and with gratitude. Washing my vegetables as per that doctor’s film, I hold each pepper in my hand and notice  its color, consider with gratitude the people who grew and harvested it, who packed it and arranged it in the grocery bin for me to choose. I wash apples and then pears and then plums one at a time, paying attention to the shape and texture of each before putting them away. I give thanks, too, keenly away that not everyone will have peppers for dinner tonight. Or warm fruit compote. Or so much more.

The latest word is that this self-isolation will stay implemented through April 30. Others venture it could be longer. I can’t future-think that far. What I can do is be grateful for my now. I am keenly aware that for so many their now is a tornado of worry and illness; and for thousands of others Covid-19 has stolen their now forever.

I hoped to leave you with a bit of light so here goes. Life must be taken one step at a time. What can you do with the now that you have? What of the past can you leave behind for good? If you fall into future-thinking, summon visions that leave you easy in your heart and unafraid. Now is here, and now will unfold for us to hold and say, Thank you.


Keep the conversation going. How much future-thinking are you doing? How do you return yourself to now? Learn more about Picture a Conversation here. In the coming week I’m going to experiment with holding an online Zoom conversation using one of the Picture a Conversation cards.  If you’d like to participate, let me know in the Comments.  Thank you!


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