In my previous post about Nelson Mandela I mentioned an article about Muhammad Ali that I had read when I was younger.
It took a minute but I tracked down the original article to find out someone’s name and ended up reading the whole thing. (Which you can do here and I urge you to do it because it’s awesome.)
My wife practices meditation and mindfulness. She suffers from Crohn’s Disease and a few years ago had a major flare up that lasted nearly a year. During this time she would be in extreme pain after most meals, become exhausted if she had an idea too quickly and was generally miserable all the time (happily, a bout of surgery and TLC have kept her in remission ever since). During this period (or, The Darkness as it is known in Fallon household) Fi discovered mindfulness and the works of John Kabat Zinn.
And it probably kept her sane throughout The Darkness. She learnt about pain management and how to avoid losing hope in what seemed like a hopeless situation.
Mindfulness is all about staying in the here and now, living in the moment rather than dwelling on the past or future.
A problem I suffer from quite a bit.
I dwell too much on the past, less than I used to, but still too much. There are still people in my past who I will think about and it makes me mad. There are half-had arguments that, to me, need finishing that I’m sure the other person has forgotten about.
And also I spend too much time worrying about the future or thinking about the amazing things I’ll do and buy when I’m rich. For a time it really hurt my writing, because I became focused upon how the writing would be a source of money for me and my wife later in my life rather than something that I enjoyed doing.
The article that I read about Ali, I first read it in a magazine when it came out in 2003. Ten years ago, I sat in the back of my dad’s car as my parents drove me back to university. I remembered that anecdote about Mandela and the bit about Ali in the gym. Boxing was a passion of mine around that time but it was more about watching old fights than new ones. Later, the onset of YouTube meant that my dad could sit me down and show me some of the old fights he had told me about, while we drank beer and cheered on Sugar Ray Leonard. I also remembered thinking that if I ever wanted to meet Mandela (and I really wanted to) I would need to get something done because he wasn’t going to come to me.
For some reason reading that article, an article about an aging champion, and reading it today of all days had me thinking that I need to be more mindful. I worry too much about the past and I worry too much about the future and dying and all those heady things that there’s no point dwelling on all the time.
I picked up some mindfulness stuff accidentally from reading Infinite Jest, which came in handy when I was getting my tattoo and kept thinking about the part of the book where the author writes that “no single, individual moment is in and of itself unendurable”. Turns out that is mindfulness.
Other than that though I still practice Oscar speeches for the movies of the books I have yet to write and dwell on the time that some dickhead from school said some kind of thing that school dickheads say.
So I think, in the spirit of living in the here and now, I am going to make being more mindful my new years resolution for 2014.
And here’s some Ali to play us out.