On a recent hike, I came across an odd sight: a bag of dog poop 30 feet up a tree. Okay. Let’s just review this for a moment. Someone took the time to carry poo bags four miles in, then carefully collect the poop, only to toss the PLASTIC bag out into the woods? I mean, I get it that carrying a loaded bag of shit for miles isn’t desirable. So, why take the bags at all? Why not just bury the crap a couple feet off the trail? Once I got past the humor of the situation, I began to doubt the person meant for the bag to end up stuck in a tree. More than likely they tossed it thinking it would land somewhere out away from the trail. Anyway, it got me thinking about unintended consequences.
I find when I’m not truly in the moment, I often get results I did not expect, predict, or intend. These unintended consequences could have been avoided had I simply paid more attention, stopped multitasking, and concentrated on the task at hand. Although most of the time they are minor, unintended consequences would likely not occur at all if I was fully present.
I have one of those minds that likes to be busy. My mind’s desire to fill every second with thought is both helpful and annoying. It makes daydreaming easy and silent meditation a challenge. But being fully present allows me to get so much more out of each experience. I feel more deeply, see more vividly, experience less stress, make fewer mistakes, and evade unintended consequences.
One way to be more present is to focus on your body. Become aware of as much detail as possible by asking a few questions, starting with external and moving internal. What do I smell, taste, hear? What is around me and in back of me? How my clothes feel against my skin? What do I feel in my feet? My legs? My arms? My head? What is happening with my digestion? How is my heart pumping?
Placing focus on the body quickly heightens awareness and focuses the mind and, thus, bring you to the present moment. It’s still a challenge to stay in this state, but it gets easier with practice. Regardless, sometimes we just throw shit up in the air to see where it lands. Sometimes it works out okay, and sometimes it ends up 30 feet up in the air for everyone to see. Unintended consequences.