Living in the Moment…
“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have.”
As we get older, we are increasingly reminded of our pending mortality in subtle and not so subtle ways. Certainly, the body begins showing signs of wear and tear and photos from our youth take on an almost “other-worldly” dimension as the gap between then and now widens. We become less concerned about our appearance at the grocery store and more fretful about what goes into our grocery cart. Suddenly, as Rocky fires down that 6-egg drink, we’re more anxious about the yolk staining his sweatshirt-than we are about the nutritional value of ingesting a half dozen raw eggs. Getting older, as my dad used to say-“Ain’t for sissies!”
But few reminders of the passing years are as harsh or vivid as the growing list of friends and family who are no longer with us or whom we’ve received word of their coming demise. I received such news a few weeks ago with word that a friend of almost fifty-years had stage-four pancreatic cancer. I think it hit me especially hard because he was truly one of Colorado’s greatest athletes in his prime, whom I played against when I was a young man and thriving athlete. If cancer could find and defeat him-then who among us is safe. Which in itself is a silly thought because each of us will entertain our own worst nightmares of how and when-before we make our own final exits. The news of his illness hit me especially hard.
“The meeting of two eternities, the past and the future…
is precisely the present moment.” –Henry David Thoreau
Life is little more than a running series of reminders. When we’re young—we’re invulnerable and anything is possible. At mid-life, we’re teetering on that delicate tightrope between what was and what still might be. Later, we become cognoscente of the simple fact that less is ahead of us than behind us, and it begins to shade the way we see the world and how we choose to live our lives. For me? I am reminded of the one Super Power we all have. The opportunity to live in the moment and all the power and joy that can be derived from it! The power of NOW!
I used to marvel at my kids when they were little. To a child, there is no past. There is no future. They bounce from moment to moment with the lightness that comes from having no burdensome thoughts to weigh them down. All that matters is the here and now, which is God’s special gift to children that allows them a few years of exuberant innocence before life begins taxing them with worries and sorrows. All too soon, the beauty of the moment is sacrificed on the altar of what was or what might be.
I have had a marvelous life. Far better than I deserved. I’ve experienced great moments of success and victory mixed with love, jubilation, and exciting adventures. I have also endured horrific loss and dug holes so deep that I found myself on Hell’s doorstep. Today? I measure my life by three simple metrics. I have a son and daughter who love me. I have friends that support and challenge me. I am in good health. That’s it.
By that measure, I am a wealthy and happy man. I have added a fourth. I am training my mind (no easy task) to live fully in the present moment. My awareness is completely centered on the here and now. I am not worrying about the future or thinking about the past—only in the present am I living where life is happening. The past and future are illusions worthy only of a glance-not a stare. A smile crosses my face several times a day when a pleasant memory is triggered in my brain that warms my heart. I am more aware than ever that the best memories are born of the greatest days and moments—made greater still by embracing that moment. If we can stack up enough stellar todays—our yesterdays will be magnificent, and our tomorrows will always be more than sufficient.
“There is no distance on this earth
as far away as yesterday.” – Robert Nathan