On being in the moment

My favorite time to go to the gym is 8:00 at night.  It gets dark now at 4:30.  Plus it’s cold, rainy and windy.  Even if I felt like running outside, I would have talked myself out of it.   There’s hardly anyone in the gym this late.  I have a favorite treadmill.  Right in front of the television.  A little too close.  It is mounted from the ceiling and so I have to tilt my head back a little bit to look up at it.    But it is near the window which I crack open.  Ah, precious breeze.   I always look at tvguide.com before I head out to the gym.  I want to know what channel to turn to.  This is another reason I like to go when the gym is empty.  I want to hog the tv.

Tonight I’m a little late because I went to the lovely SGB firm holiday party at Fare Start at 7th and Virginia.  It was crammed full of lawyers, judges and other people who help us do what we do.    I go to my favorite spot and turn the tv to channel 6.  This channel re-plays the shows that were on earlier during the day on channel 5.    In this case Oprah.  I adjust my ipod, open my water bottle, and off I go.

This is the only time I will watch tv.  Sitting still and watching tv – for me – is a horrid thought.  I can’t bear just sitting there.  I like it if I’m moving on a treadmill.  I watch it and read the subtitles.  I’m listening to my Madonna playlist.  I love Madonna.

Tonight The Judds are on.  This is Oprah’s farewell year.  She has 130 shows left.  The Judds have been on Oprah 17 times over her career.  She adores them.  Mother, two daughters, famous as can be.  And they have laid bare their souls and bickered with each other regularly for the past couple of decades on the show.  They are some of her most beloved celebrity guests, because they lay it all out there.  They don’t try to be perfect.

Today they talk about their family drama, tools they’ve learned over the years to deal with each other,  and say hi to their therapist who is in the audience.  At one point, Wynona talks about being in the moment.  Oprah jumps on that.  She says on the elevator ride from her dressing room down to the show, she centers herself.  When the doors open, she is ready to concentrate on feeling the love from every person who is in the audience.  She is determined not to think of anything other than the show, her audience, her guests.  She wants to be fully and completely right there in the moment.

I have been loping along for about half an hour.  I am sweating.  Madonna is bopping.  I am reading Oprah’s words.  And despite my busy physical body, I feel my energy reach out and into that tv set.  I am feeling all things Oprah and my breath catches.

Being in the moment is a subject that trial lawyers analyze, talk about and practice.  I’ve seen people try to teach it.  And I suppose there are steps that can be taken to approach it.  But truly being in the moment, doesn’t involve application of a technique.    It involves a state of being.  It requires surrender.

Okay, don’t worry.  I’m not going to get philosophical or spiritual on you.  But here’s the deal.  To be in the moment in trial, means to clear away everything other than that which is directly before you.  And that can be very scary and leave you feeling vulnerable.

If you have notes that you are following, you can’t be in the moment.  If you have a plan that you are sticking to, you can’t be in the moment.  If you are worried about why the jury is frowning at you, you can’t be in the moment.  If you are thinking about the next witness, you can’t be in the moment.

We are four or five years old.  We have been riding our big girl or boy bicycle now for several weeks.  We don’t go real fast, because our bikes still have training wheels.  But who cares.  We like riding our bikes and it feels very fun.  One day, our parents take off the training wheels and we are not happy about that at all.  It was totally fine.  We don’t care that we can’t go that fast… Oh, our little bodies are shaking and trembling.  The wheels on our bikes are jerking around in harmony with our panic.   Don’t let me go, hold on I’m scared!  We shout.  And then with a little shove, our parents push us and…  well…Usually we fall and scrape our knees and it is a terrible thing.  But we get back up, crying probably, and get pushed off again and again until.  Wait – we’re doing it.  We’re going and not falling and….Yippeee!!!

Being in the moment in trial is a big gigantic adrenaline rush that gets honed down and channeled through us.    We feel utterly free yet completely engaged.  It can be magical.  And I can’t wait to feel it again.