by Michele Sprague   Between taking the kids to soccer practice, hosting sleepovers for their friends, working, taking graduate courses…Whew! And that’s only part of my to-do list. No wonder, my mind seems to work in overdrive, racing towards the next thing to do.

Then one day a surprise living in the now experience happened to me. A living in the now experience focuses your awareness on what’s going on in front of you, at that moment–the sights, the sounds, the smells. It’s putting aside to-do lists and worries, and putting your mind in neutral.

This living in the now experience was a first for me. Colors seemed brighter, a cool breeze carried the intoxicating scent of flowers, and high energy music played in the background. It was a beautiful, seemingly perfect world. And that happened in a local business’ parking lot on one memorable Saturday night.

It started with a simple trip to the video store, which was located in a strip mall. I planned to checkout a video and return home. But I never made it to the store.

Once I left my car in the parking lot, I felt as if I entered another world. My senses heightened as I took in the sights, sounds and smells. My to-do lists slipped away until all that was left was peaceful, happy feelings. I was living in the now–a strange place for me. There was nothing to do but enjoy the simple things in life, which brought surprising happiness.

The moon shone brightly atop layers of dark clouds on that cool, July evening. Tree branches danced gracefully as their leaves whispered in the breeze.

The colorful, neon signs and letters appeared brighter than usual against the backdrop of the dark sky. The lights inside the businesses’ windows exposed what appeared to be slide shows. People dined and gathered in groups; a waitress waited on a table; and a man stood behind a cash register while talking to an elderly woman.

Three teenage girls giggled as they left the video store. One of them had purple hair.

Another form of magic took place in front of the drug store as a teenage boy flirted with a teenage girl.

And high energy, rhythmic, Middle Eastern music poured out of a nearby subdivision, occasionally interrupted by what sounded like a disc jockey, cheers and applause.

For some reason, everything in my surroundings seemed charged with positive energy. Everything seemed harmonious. This was a slice of everyday life, and it felt good to be a quiet observer and have my head free of schedules, lists and assignments. So, instead of going to the video store, I sat on a bench and continued to watch life unfold.

A teenage boy, who wore a backpack, baggy shorts, and a baseball cap, skated by me while talking on a cell phone.

Couples, children and single folks walked in and out of the video and drug stores, as well as the restaurants. The chatter, the laughter, the conversations, and the stolen kiss I witnessed as a teenage boy kissed a girl, contributed to what turned out to be the evening’s entertainment. These folks seemed oblivious to the life story taking place in which they shared starring roles.

Then, as if a movie director said, “Cut,” the clouds overshadowed the moon and the sky grew darker. The magic that seemed to surround the evening vanished, and I my to-do list began crowding my mind. I remembered the birthday cake I need to bake for my daughter and the paper that was due Monday.

I still marvel at the sense of peace and joy I felt that evening. I don’t know how or why the living in the now experience happened. After all, it was an ordinary Saturday night. Yet everything was extraordinary.        About the Author:Michele SpragueMichele Sprague is the author of the book, Single Again 101. She also wrote hundreds of stories for corporate magazines and newsletters, and other publications. (