• Bex McLaughlin

Desert Calling, Lesson 2: Enjoy the Present

As I mentioned in the post about my solo trip to the desert, I walked away from that adventure with a handful of lessons learned, including: "Enjoy the Present." Actually, in my head it was more along the lines of "Will you just enjoy the present moment, damn it?!"

On my adventure, I had a lot of time to think. A lot. Of time. To think. And, one of my biggest takeaways was that I hang out in the future way too often. It's good to plan for the future and have goals, but I really want to enjoy the here and now, while I'm healthy, vibrant and have all my senses. And sense.

In my last post, I talked about the wacky weather I experienced on my desert trip. I noticed myself spiraling a little, trying to perfectly plan next stops so I could experience nice weather. I was moving around my itinerary based on weather reports for six different destinations. I considered cancelling hotel reservations and booking elsewhere just to enjoy a little sunshine. At some point I realized that as I was trying to think through my next move or two (or 10), I was missing the adventure of the present moment.

This notion was reinforced during my time in Sedona. Sedona is a wonderfully magical place filled with red rocks, starry skies, hippies, crystal shops, yoga, meditation, powerful energies, and a grand appreciation for all that is metaphysical and mystical. And otherworldly.

Sedona: My Truly 'Truman Show' Experience

By the time I reached Sedona on Day 6 of my trip, I finally was settling into vacation mode. I suppose another lesson I learned was that two-week vacations are my jam for a reason; it takes me a week to just to detach from fast-paced routines and planning.

That first afternoon in Sedona, I ventured to Airport Mesa to hike the loop, to be with nature, and to enjoy a spectacular sunset. It was during this particular hike that, for the first time on this entire trip, I had a conversation with God. I recognized spirit was leading me to simply bask in the joy of the present moment. Right there. In that very moment. And, it was a sentiment to carry with me in all areas of my life.

After watching the sunset, I decided to go to a special place which shall remain "anonymous." In that place, I met a handful of people. But, I can only remember one. He was a tall young man--maybe in his late teens or early 20's--with a baby face and beautiful big curls in his hair. He resembled a cherub.

Anyway. We all parted ways, and I went to seek out dinner at 8:45pm. News alert: Everything in Sedona closes at 9:00pm. I couldn't find a dang place to eat, and I mean I really was hungry. I decided to run into a Whole Foods at 8:55pm, knowing I could find something quick. Which I did. And as I approached the register, this complete whackadoodle came up behind me talking to me like we're good old friends. He tells me my selection in fruit cup is solid, and he picks one up for himself. I pay and quickly speed walk to my rental car, cell phone in hand and prepared to fake a call, or dial 911, whichever seems right should this guy be on my trail.

Well, Charlie never caught up to me that night at Whole Foods.

Charlie. That was his name. The whackadoodle. "How did I learn his name?" you might inquire. Let's just say things got special-level weird the next day. During my next day in Sedona, I woke up with the sun mega-early and set out for a day of adventure. I went back to Airport Mesa for a hike, then targeted Bell Rock and Cathedral Rock. When I arrived at Bell Rock, I exited my vehicle to see my friend Charlie. Yep, there he was. Dude from Whole Foods.

As Charlie approached me--his long dirty blonde hair was in a ponytail, skin was tanned from hanging in the desert for a while, and a my goodness, he had a stench, perhaps from his endless weeks of nomadic wandering. He asked me if I wanted to hike with him. Shocked to see this familiar face again, I asked him his name and if he remembered me from Whole Foods. He didn't remember me, but I gathered Charlie wasn't the type to remember much. (Imagine Jim Breuer's character in Half Baked.) Part of me wanted to run away, but a stronger part of me said "Just hike with him. He's in your path for a reason."

Wow. Okay, so this story is going on and on. In short, Charlie informed me during our hike that he is from another planet, he astro-travels, and is reiki certified but has no idea what level. That was fine and dandy, but when he offered to do tantric healing on me, I started looking for an exit strategy.

Enter perceived exit strategy: Darren. A totally normal looking guy with his two kids, enjoying a hike on a beautiful day. At least I thought he was normal till he and Charlie bonded not only over their Texan roots, veganism, meditation and reiki--but also their planet of origin and passion for space travel. Sedona was so special.

I ended up making it out alive. With some good stories, nevertheless. And, I moved on to my next spot. On my venture to Cathedral Rock, I stopped at an intersection to let a person cross the road. At half glance, I saw her as a woman wearing a fisherman's hat, with huge bustling locks of curly hair peeking out from under the brim. But as I looked closer, I realized it was no one else but cherub boy from the night before. Right there in front of me. Crossing the street with not another soul in sight. And, that was the moment I realized things were really weird. Were these just characters in a make believe world like Jim Carey experienced in the Truman Show?

Or was this real life, and I'm just usually too caught up in the rigmarole of things to notice the people around me? Ouch.

The Present Moment

And there it was, my friends. Another tug from the Universe to join her in the present moment.

As I write this, I am thinking about moments. Weeks--almost months--have passed since my time in Sedona. And in that time, I have experienced moments I will remember for at least a while, if not a lifetime. Spending time with family in Syracuse, NY and Charlotte, NC. Visiting my dad's grave on my first Father's Day without him. Officiating a very dear friend's wedding. Finding the neighborhood in which I want to buy a home. Watching my mom's joy in using the Alexa Echo device she thinks she bought herself (wink). Nestling my head into the sound of a beating heart. Embracing others. Embracing life.

Ah shucks, I'm such a romantic. But life is really sweet like that, when I give into the moment. When I surrender my thoughts of controlling and planning what the future has in store. Not making rules for what should and shouldn't be. Stepping out of my comfort zone. Taking risks for the sake of really living. Right now. Doing things that make my heart smile and spirit giggle. Because. Why not?


Years ago I met regularly with a meditation guru who taught me many great lessons, but I think the best of them all was this: "There is nothing wrong in the present moment." And, the best way for me to get to the present moment at any time is simple: Breathe.

I'll leave you with this. Jon Kabat Zinn's body scan meditation is my probably my all-time favorite guided meditation for surrendering, releasing and relaxing into the here and now.

How are you enjoying the present moment? Answer in the comments.


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