“Now or never! You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.” ~Henry David Thoreau
I remember the sweet fuzziness of life from when I was a child. Time was an abstract concept, something I had to learn to understand and to mind. While immersed in the throes of the moment, all of my moments flowed together like a river, and I was like a leaf, riding the waves. I remember wistfully noticing, soon after I had become cognizant of the passage of time, how I missed that sense of complete absorption and the utter freedom that it allowed.
In a practical sense, that sense of complete immersion into the moment is only possible in snippets, my time being framed by weeks, and the weeks by days, the days governed by routines that manage the hours that I have in them. The blissful sense of being lost (and free of care) in my moments are now broken down into smaller increments.
So much of our present time is spent thinking of the past or looking to the future. Each time I lose my sense of the now, I catch myself in the act of doing these things. I’ve made it my daily practice to engage in this mindfulness… to gently re-steer my focus back to the moment, simply because the future doesn’t matter, and in many respects, neither does the past.
We become characters in our own plays, remembering what we think is the script of who we are, performing by rote the roles we think have been set into place. Really, we are changing, moment-by-moment. This is good. All things change. All things shift and evolve. It is a natural cycle. Sometimes we come full circle, back to where we started, but the previous journey’s insights will have been incorporated into our make-up, and standing back in a place where we have already been, after the journey, brings about a new beginning. Though the journey follows along the same route we have previously trodden upon, the experience alters.
I have found that it is a challenge to balance being in the moment and quieting the mind when it begins to feel the need to project forward, or look backward at past experience. Logic would dictate that drawing upon past experience is a rational act, one that is wise to consult when making choices in the present moment. There are times when I feel compelled to scrutinize current situations and determine that they are very similar in “look and feel” to what I’ve experienced in the past, recall how they made me feel then, and subsequently move me to make a judgement about my current experience. The struggle is in surrendering to the moment, regardless of the outcome, and reveling in it as it is, without the weight of past experience or future expectation. This is a tall order for this human, who naturally desires something to cling to, some sort of stability, some sort of guarantee of outcome, despite also having a full understanding that very little of what unfolds in the future is controllable.
Yesterday I read a blog post by Osho, speaking about his awakening. He speaks of the “it doesn’t matter” moment, the one where he realizes the futility of seeking. I’ve skirted this experience many times recently, in many facets of my life, and though I’ve not come to achieve the sort of awakening that Osho did, I sense I am getting closer to it each time I take notice of my wandering mind, each time I take notice of the futility of seeking for something outside of –and separate from– myself.