The Power of the Present Moment
The neon lights of the movie theater marquee blazed before my eyes as rain fell down amid the steel giants rising into the Indiana sky. There’s always a particular kind of excitement I feel before seeing a movie on the big screen. Tonight was even more unique.
I was in Indianapolis for a work event, and I had just gotten dinner with my Mom before heading back into the city to the hotel where I was staying. But earlier in the day, I had noticed that the downtown movie theater had a late-night showing of Blade Runner 2049, a new movie I really wanted to see. I was about to see it by myself in a big city theater. I called my wife before I went in so she could share in the excitement.
I had told her about my plans earlier in the day, and she said it sounded like a fun idea. However, her tune had now changed. As I spoke with her on my cell phone in the rain, she said that staying out until 1 am to see a movie in the city by myself might not be the best idea.
I relunctantly turned around and walked back to my hotel room in the rain. I was a frustrated mess of entitlement. My attitude was far worse than the weather that seemed to mock me from above. When I got back to my hotel room after getting off the phone with my wife, I sulked in the bed for about 15 minutes before thankfully coming to my senses.
Why was I mad? I felt that I was independent enough to handle myself in the big city. I felt that I had missed out on a cool experience.
But then I turned to look out the window of my 12th-floor hotel room. I sat up and noticed the novel that I had brought with me on my trip. I realized that there were unique experiences waiting for me in that very moment. Continuing to sulk would deprive me of enjoying them. I sat in the comfy chair in the corner of the room and looked out over Indianapolis at night while I read Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. Not only was all well, but all was fantastic.
Also, and I really cannot stress this point enough, but my wife was right — as she so often is. Staying out until 1 am to see a movie in a big city by myself was probably not a great decision. I’m so blessed to have a wife who helps bring clarity to my life when I’m letting my hobbies and fascinations overtake my common sense.
I raced into the movie theater rushing to find the email with my pre-purchased ticket. It was seven minutes past the hour, and I knew I had 10 minutes at most to make it into the theater before the movie started.
But I really wanted some popcorn.
The theater attendant quickly handed me my ticket, and I walked up to the food line. Only one person stood ahead of me. However, I quickly realized that there was some error. The checkout machine was not ringing up his order correctly, and I was losing precious time. I left the line and went into the theater where Blade Runner 2049 was playing — the exact movie I had wanted to watch the previous night.
The previews were still rolling, and I figured that I had one or two more before the movie started. I walked back out to the concession area to find that the man still had not gotten his order. I waited for a few seconds before finally giving up and heading into the movie.
I found my seat still huffing and puffing as the last preview ended. The opening credits began to roll, and my inner frustration continued to fume. Why? Because I really wanted popcorn and wasn’t able to get any.
Just like the previous night, however, I finally came to my senses. I was sitting in a theater about to watch the movie for which I had opined mere hours earlier. Was I really going to let the fact that I didn’t get popcorn affect this experience?
I hit the mental reset button and watched in amazement as the images and music came to life before me. Fast forward eight days…
Enjoy Where You Are
I had enjoyed the experience of watching Blade Runner 2049 so much so, that eight days later I found myself in the exact same theater watching it by myself once more. My wife had plans with a friend, so I had bought myself a ticket for that afternoon.
Movie Review: Blade Runner 2049
Roger Deakins better win himself an Oscar for this movie. The legendary cinematographer puts in some of his best work…
This time, there was nobody in line ahead of me for popcorn.
I got my popcorn and a drink and headed into the theater. My feet were moving, but I felt as if I was floating. I sat down, put my phone away and let the experience of the movie wash over me. Hours later when I left the theater, I began to think about what had happened over the previous week. As I reflected, I realized that some valuable lessons lingered beneath the surface.
Maybe it seems silly to you to draw so much out of a movie-watching experience, but the sequence of what happened really struck me. The first night, I wanted to go see the movie by myself in the big city. But it really wasn’t the best idea, and there were fantastic moments waiting for me instead. The very next day, I was able to do what I had wished for — see the movie by myself — but I initially got frustrated for not being able to get popcorn. A little over a week later, I was watching the movie, by myself, with a bag of popcorn in my hand.
Was that final experience somehow better than the others? No, not really. In each instance, the present moment had specific joys waiting for me. But, initially, I wasn’t ready to experience them because I was wishing for something else. Thankfully, in each situation, I came to my senses. But I wonder how many moments pass me by while I’m thinking about something down the road…
Enjoy where you are. Dive into the present moment. Sometimes things will go how you want them to, and sometimes they won’t. But even so, the present moment in which we find ourselves has treasures that may seem hidden at first. But we won’t unlock them if we’re thinking about the treasures we hope we’ll find in the future. There is treasure right where you are. Find it.
I believe in you, and I wish you all the best.