Make every task you undertake, or person you encounter, your “universe” for the moment.
Rapt attention, as I mentioned in an earlier essay, surpasses in value every other character trait we may possess. The decision to honor our fellow travelers with devoted attention, in regard to their every word, their loud as well as their quiet behavior, their very presence in our lives regardless of what the expression is; is a gift beyond measure. This idea may feel suffocating, when first considered. However, it offers any one who embraces it freedom at a very deep level. Freedom. No other decision about life’s journey and our responses to any one we will ever encounter on our journey ever needs to be made. Not ever.
I’m of course not sure how this suggestion for how to “see” your life registers with you. It sounds extreme. I know. But I have grown extremely fond of it. It has reduced the stress in my life immeasurably. For decades, my mind was consumed with thoughts, things, responses, judgments, opinions, negativities of every persuasion that I attached to whom or whatever was just possibly “out there.” The busyness of my mind felt debilitating. And exhausting. Being told I didn’t need to live that way any more was suspect. Being attentive to “this moment’s universe,” seemed like an impossible, and rather uninteresting way to live. My mind was out there, mixing it up with who ever I conjured up, no matter what was right here in front of me.
And then one day, as the result of studying A Course in Miracles, I woke up to the Truth that there is no out there. I was gobsmacked. Never was there an “out there,” the course taught. What we see, “out there,” is what we have projected from our own mind. Never more. Never less. Experiencing only what is right here and now before me, no matter how inconsequential it may seem to be, is a God sent gift. And I mean that literally.
Some of you have no doubt lived in the moment for years. Some spiritual philosophies teach this. I tip my hat to you. Practice, constant, vigilant practice, was necessary for me to fully embrace that nothing but NOW existed and then learn how to live here. Only here and now. I still stumble occasionally. Some days many times, but the pay off each time I do embrace the present moment is sweet. It feels like a comforter around my shoulders on a cool evening. It relieves me of even a hint of anxiety. I trust that the God of my understanding is paying me a visit within every moment of my life and I’ll miss His “call” if my mind is on the past or guessing about some future event. Or more than likely, passing judgment on “the who” of the past or projected future.
Giving up our reliance on the past to define the present is a must if we ever want to experience the peace that we are promised when we stay saddled in the comfort of now. I have decided that I am too old to relish conflict. In a very unhealthy way I used to thrive on it. It frightened me but it also made me feel alive. Now it literally scares me. There is only one way to avoid being frightened. I must step into this moment and cherish it. This is an assignment I can happily accept.
I have made a case for living here and now. I hope you can see that. What’s your choice.