How to Avoid “Living in the Moment”

“High side!” I yelled.

My boss’s truck teetered over the edge of an embankment.

It was January in Montana, in the mountains.  It was -20 degrees that day on the ski hill.   Down below was a river that was half frozen.  Maybe this was when my vertigo first appeared?

It’s amazing what thoughts pass through your mind in a situation like this.

My first was that if we go into the drink I’ve got about 90 seconds to get out of the water.

Get your hand on the seatbelt buckle.

I wondered how swimming with ski boots was going to go?

Reliving this moment isn’t entirely unlike this scene from True Lies.

“Live in the moment”, is a piece of advice that you hear at weddings, graduations, and TED-type talks.

Good advice.  No one ever tells you how to do it.

Why is this?  How do they do it?  How do I know when I’m doing it?

95% of those people are just repeating what someone else “smart” said.

I know this because I repeat stuff that smart people have said all the time.  In this case, I have actually done it.

Here’s how to do it:



“Where the magic happens” is when you are living in the moment.

This moment can be designed or it can be forced upon you.  See my predicament above.

Ask yourself:  When was the last time I did something for the first time?  If the answer is greater than a week.  You’re avoiding living in the moment.

At first, you won’t realize your living in the moment until after the fact.  But, if you keep pushing yourself out of your comfort zone you’ll start to recognize the tell-tale signs before hand.  Anxiety. Excitement.  A feeling of pressure.

This isn’t a post about how to deal with these emotions.  Maybe next time.

The good news is that the “magic zone” is auto-regulated.

People thought I was crazy because I was a professional ski patroller, ski mountaineering guide, and helicopter ski guide.

They should’ve hung out with my friends.  They regularly did things that would make my head spin.

I needed them to keep pushing me into the “magic zone”.  I’d like to think that they were thinking the same thing about me, but who knows.

How do you start to do this?

Ask for a discount at Starbucks.  Chat up the stranger in line at the train station.  I haven’t done this one yet, but try selling someone a $5 bill for $1.  I hear it’s impossible to do.

Slowly raise the stakes.

Public speaking is my next “magic zone” target.  Or swing dancing.  I don’t know.

The point is that the comfort zone is always and forever acting like Mary Swanson from Dumb and Dumber.  This isn’t a knock on Mary, she looked good, but more a call to start noticing when people (especially beautiful women), events, and mysterious forces are limiting your time in the “magic zone”.

“High Side!”

Luckily everyone in the truck was either a professional river rat (whitewater guide) or had been on enough whitewater trips to know what it meant.

Everyone dove to the driver side to try and counter balance the truck.

The truck stopped teetering.

Slowly, starting with me because I was on the lowest corner hanging out over the edge, we climbed over each other to get out.

My boss was the last one in the truck.

I put all my weight into pulling down on the open driver’s side door to act as an anchor.  My friend grabbed my jacket to hold me.  The rest followed suit forming a line.

This moment had my full my attention.  This moment was real.  The moments that you are most alive, are the moments with real consequences.

My boss looked me in the eyes.

“If this thing starts moving…let go.”

As he shifted his weight, the truck started moving….

True story.

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