Archives for posts with tag: now

Actually, no. Let that one go. This one, here? This one, too. Let it go. A moment isn’t really meant to last in any enduring way; it’s only a moment. It’ll pass. Good or bad. Each moment (and experience) is its own thing. Discreet. Individual. Transitory. Impermanent. Breathe. Relax. It’s gone. Set up the dominoes again, and watch them fall one more time.

Roses on a sunny day, impermanent, like moments.

I take a moment to enjoy my coffee. I take a moment for my small list of things I’d like to get done before I leave for work. I take a moment to be grateful – in advance – for the day ahead, hoping it will be filled with laughter and wonder. I let it go in advance, too; it is not yet “now”. 🙂

So much of life’s turmoil seems wrapped up in our clinging and struggling. This cup of coffee, right here, required no struggle to make this morning, in spite of waking feeling rather distracted, a bit dizzy and stupid, and uncertain; it’s a lovely morning. I got to enjoy a few minutes of my Traveling Partner’s company, too. A nice start to a Spring morning. I sip my coffee contentedly, thinking about summer days to come.

I look at the time… how is it already “now” so soon? 😉 I chuckle to myself, wondering if I can maintain this balanced moment of “now” – all day long? My smile deepens, and a minute ticks over on the clock. Close enough! 😀 Feeling ready for this moment, and this day, is enough to get started on. This one seems as good a moment as any to begin again. 🙂

Enjoy another rose – they’re quite lovely. 🙂

I woke this morning, but I’m not actually sure when. I checked the clock at 2:38 am, but didn’t get up. I may have slept more, I don’t recall being wakeful, but I recall many moments of being awake. I don’t know whether they are consecutive (and I was awake until I got up) or separated by sleep (resulting in sleep, however restless it may have been). I got up at 6:38, 4 hour later, when I next checked the clock. If it had been, say, 3:11 am, I’d have gotten up to pee and gone back to bed afterward – and perhaps that would have been a good choice at 2:38 am. 🙂

I see signs of autumn everywhere on my walks lately.

I see signs of autumn everywhere on my walks lately; time to get back out on the trails.

I’m not sure what sort of morning this one is, so far. I’m still sore from more than usual miles of walking yesterday (a reminder to get back on the trail). I woke in pain, stiff from my arthritis, and since that’s primarily in my spine, it affects most movement, even breathing feels subtly impaired, as I fight the pain to find posture that allows deeper breaths. (Many of my headaches source with a damaged cervical vertebra (C7) and its adjacent arthritic siblings, rather than with my TBI.) I put on music first thing this morning, even before I turned on the aquarium lights, which is unusual. More unusual still, I didn’t do so with deliberate purpose and awareness, it was the action of someone just being and doing, action following impulse without intent. I’m not unhappy with the choice, but the ebb and flow of my emotions seems more connected this morning to the music than to my experience. Highs and lows come and go with the changing tracks on my playlist. I made my coffee, and forgot about it on the counter in the kitchen. My memory seems very clear on details that are often sort of vague and challenging – but I am peculiarly inattentive to other sorts of things I generally track well. And… Yesterday there was this moment when it was entirely and rather publicly clear that I had entirely lost any ability to manage simple math – I couldn’t calculate 44 days from the current date for a simple forecasting scenario, even using a calendar, and the calculator on my computer was beyond me (cognitively), at that moment. It could have been an embarassing moment – it wasn’t; I was frightened, and felt very vulnerable and insecure. The feelings passed, the concern did not. I’m sort of … following myself around observing myself in the background today, with concern and curiosity.

I write awhile. I retrieve my forgotten coffee. I change the playlist when I find myself feeling some borrowed emotion that doesn’t fit the circumstances of the day. And I wonder. I try to avoid worrying, but find myself thinking of things like “Flowers for Algernon”, and the neuroscience of cognition, and the progress on A.I., and how fragile this meat vessel really is, and how many people in my family have died of strokes… and my injury. Suddenly my fears become liquid and the tears are quietly slipping down my face, and I weep to face my mortality so starkly. 52 isn’t old. Neither am I a child. I carry enough damage to this fragile vessel from years of punishing circumstances, trauma, casual thoughtlessness, and mischance that I probably ought not expect it to be without consequence where longevity is concerned. It’s a good call to take care of myself if I earnestly want to stay around – but, realistically, so much of whether I stay around isn’t actually up to me in the moment, at all. Strokes do happen. Will I know, when the time comes? Will it be like some of the TIAs I’ve had, looking out through my eyes as windows, aware but unable to say – but for longer than a moment? What’s next? Will everything just… end?

I didn’t understand yesterday how profoundly affected I was in that moment, with a colleague, utterly unable to do the simplest math, looking up from my desk so helplessly – and asking for help. That was hard. I didn’t lose face, and the moment passed. I’m open about my issues, and learning to ask for help when I need it has had a lot of value. I’m frightened, though, and that’s harder to be open about. I let myself cry, and face the fear. I am okay right now. My coffee is hot, well-made, and tastes just right. The morning is a pleasant one. The music is all music I like very much. I live well, comfortably, and meet most of my day-to-day needs easily. I am human; emotions like fear and uncertainty are part of the experience. I guess I’m just not ready to go now, and the fear hits that yearning for more time – now that I seem to be sorting some things out. It’s a complicated feeling.  Tears and more tears, no sobbing or hysterics, just this momentarily ceaseless flow of tears, blurring my vision. And this fear. I have so much more love to give…

The tears slow, and eventually stop. My head aches from the crying… or…was the headache already there? I’m not sure this morning. This morning I lack certainty about a great many things. Will I see my traveling partner, or is he still sick? Will my housewarming later today be fun and relaxed, or will I mess with my head foolishly getting overly worked up over small things and stress myself out? Will I continue to find, over the course of the day, that other things ‘aren’t working’ as I expect them to, in my ability to think, to do math, to spell, to write,  to reason, to recall, to plan, to communicate, to feel…? Will I rise above the small challenges to engage this lovely moment, or find myself faltering and failing to find any secure emotional foothold? Will I take care of me, quite tenderly, and recognize that at any age being reminded of one’s mortality can be ‘a tough  moment’, or will I treat myself callously, with disregard, self-deprecation, and mockery? Will I “be okay”, or can I find sufficiency in being okay right now? I momentarily feel as though I might trade actual death from whatever nasty virus my traveling partner picked up for 15 minutes in his arms, feeling comforted, cared for, and alive. Fear sucks.

My playlist comes through for me in the most amazing way some times. My heavy heart starts lifting listening to Atmosphere remind me how human life is. I remember, again, that I am okay right now, and that – truly – there is nothing in this moment right here that warrants these tears. I start letting it go, and gently finding my way; mortality isn’t really something we can fight skillfully (yet) as human beings. I may not live to see us achieve near-immortality through the advances of science. I have ‘now’, and it can’t be taken from me. Today isn’t a bad one. The morning isn’t difficult. I didn’t sleep badly. My coffee didn’t disappoint me. I am not out in the cold, or without nutritious groceries in my pantry. I am not lacking in love. I don’t have to go into the office today. I am, in fact, okay right now. “All is well” is approximately accurate – at least as far as any details I can be clearly aware of in my own experience, myself, in this moment.

As suddenly as they came, the tears – and my fear and uncertainty – dissipate. I am okay, right now. It’s enough, isn’t it? 🙂

I clean my salt-spattered glasses, sip my remaining now cold coffee, and notice again the lovely morning ahead of me, requiring only that I take care of me, practice good practices, and live well and mindfully in this moment, on this day. Now.

It’s morning, and the start of a new work week. I have my coffee, and I sip it contentedly contemplating the good night’s rest behind me, the work day ahead, and the reassuring joy knowing that my traveling partner will return from afar sometime today – although I won’t see him, myself, until tomorrow it feels good to know he will soon be near.

Light and flowers; I am fascinated by light as a metaphor for gnosis.

Light and flowers; I am fascinated by light as a metaphor for gnosis.

Love is not ‘forever’, generally; it is, only as long as it is, at which point it discontinues being. Some loves are brutally slaughtered by the will or disregard of participants. Some loves fade due to lack of investment or involvement. Some loves linger, maintained and managed, nurtured and valued, until all those doing that loving have passed on from the living to the dead – and a love like that may seem infinite, because all those touched by it recognize something remarkable and it lingers in their recollection. So…not quite infinite, certainly no more infinite than the yearnings that keep the desire for love ever in our attention, and at the top of so many to do lists. I am rambling on about love, although my thoughts were elsewhere, infinity-wise, until my traveling partner pinged me a cheery good morning; hearing from him, of course my thoughts are of love. 🙂

Raindrops on a rose named

Raindrops on a rose named “X-rated”.

I am sipping my coffee and thinking about life’s infinite journey; each day a new experience, each moment my own to engage, to enjoy, to savor, and I am offered a seemingly infinite series of such days, one after the after, each new… It’s not forever, though. My time is now, and will be until…yeah. Death. We are mortal. Life feels continuous. The journey itself seems strangely timeless in some moments, as though it does quite literally go on ‘forever’. Day after day. Moment upon moment. Thoughts. Emotions. Experiences. Dreams. Then, one day, I won’t wake up for another. Approximately infinite, because while my journey continues along a seemingly endless timeline of moments, at some point I, myself, am finite. I sip my coffee, still feeling quite content. Questions of ‘what then?’ don’t distress me; I am here, now. Perhaps there is something, perhaps there is nothing, in either case I am here, now, living my life and generally that’s enough. I haven’t learned all there is to know, yet. I haven’t found my way to the wisest possible perspective, yet. I haven’t mastered the practices upon which I build my contentment in life. I haven’t run out of ideas for paintings – nor exhausted the nearly endless supply of inspiration that fuels that creative work. I haven’t answered all the questions – or even figured out all the best questions to ask. I have not made an intimate sustainable connection with all the worthy beings with whom I might do so in one lifetime. I have not mastered love, Love, and loving – nor have I mastered The Art of Being. There is plenty to do, to experience, and to achieve in this one mortal lifetime – and how magical that there is no rush? Each moment its own, worthy of being savored… Each day unique, worthy of being explored… Each love, each lover, entirely individual and quite special, and worthy of being cherished – however things end. Aren’t we each many beginnings and endings, as beings?

Timeless questions; their greatest value is in the asking.

Timeless questions. Random thoughts. A series of moments.

I’m just saying. It’s a journey – the journey is the destination, and there’s more than enough time to take it moment by moment, awake, aware, alive; we reach the conclusion soon enough without hurrying. Being in this moment, now, and only this one, tends to slow the clock just a bit…or…approximately, seemingly so. I enjoy living most when I let ‘urgency’ fall by the wayside; nothing is more urgent than living my life well, and enjoying each moment I can, and learning something of value from those less enjoyable moments along the way.

When I rush, I so easily miss small things that hold great promise.

When I rush, I so easily miss small things that hold great promise.

So…this morning I sip my coffee, listening to the trickle of the aquarium, and the hushed sounds of the start of commuter traffic on a busy street somewhat near by, and watching the sky turn from night to day outside my patio door. I am unconcerned with other moments than this one, now. It’s a nice enough moment, as moments go, and somewhat uneventful. A moment on a Monday morning, worthy of being, but not in any way spectacular…letting even such a moment slip away unappreciated, unnoticed, un-lived would shorten my mortal journey in some subtle way…perhaps that’s the point I’m really getting at this morning; now is infinite. Well. Approximately infinite. 🙂

Look deeper. What matters most?

Look deeper. What matters most?

Today is a good day to be engaged in the moment, and living life beautifully. Today is a good day to move forward on my journey. Today is a good day to be reassured that however many minutes of my journey I may share with others, the journey I make is, itself, entirely my own. Today is a good day to choose, to question, and to walk on.  Today is a good day to live without waiting for the right set of circumstances.

With the return of the rain, I have a sense that autumn approaches; seasons change.

With the return of the rain, I have a sense that autumn approaches; seasons change.

I overslept my alarm this morning – or didn’t set it. It doesn’t much matter which; I needed the rest. My particular preference for leisurely mornings built around waking up early and taking my time serve me well here – I still have time to be leisurely. 🙂

Coffee is almost ready…

Like moments, the cup of coffee that matters most is the one in front of me now. :-)

Like moments, the cup of coffee that matters most is the one in front of me now. 🙂

It does mean there is less time for writing, this morning, and this, as a result, means I won’t be taking time to write about the phone call last evening that drove my stress level through the roof for some short time, and disrupted the early hours of my sleep enough that when deep sleep finally did overtake me, my brain and body were willing to disregard the strident wake-up call of my alarm clock in preference for another hour of sleep. That’s okay – I allow for that, simply by making my routine to start my morning so early. There’s just no rush, even this morning. I have time.

Approaching my time management from the perspective that ‘taking my time’ can be done my way – I mean, it is my time, after all – definitely eases the day-to-day stress resulting from small things like ‘being late’. I rarely am. (Unfortunately, when I am, I am at grave risk of serious emotional overload. Yep; being late is a trigger for me. I carry around major baggage about time. How suck is that?? it’s not like time itself is escapable.) Starting the morning with some small measure of leisure allows me to begin each day with less stress associated with time and timing – this is huge for me, as an individual. Your baggage is likely in different life areas, of course…how much simpler if we all shared an identical experience? We’d totally ‘get each other’ more easily…right? (I am doubtful…I seem to depend on a sense of individual identity, and personal autonomy, myself…being human, I would bet you also do.) Identical sameness might be dull, though… and it would be difficult to learn some of life’s valuable lessons, perhaps. I’ve wandered off course, here… Weren’t we talking about time?

It’s morning, just that, and no cause to rush. I sip my coffee and enjoy some moments connecting with my traveling partner, chatting and catching up. It is a work day for us both, and we talk over practical matters: budget details, calendars, what we’re doing this week, next week…planning; the practical matters of the logistics of life are also part of love and loving. I may not find it an easy fit to live with other people 24/7 – but I appreciate, value, and enjoy a good partnership with an adult who shares my values and is an equal. I start the day feeling supported, warmed by affection and good-natured regard. It’s tricky sometimes, but I am also learning to feel those feelings within the relationship I have with myself, day-to-day; a more important detail than I understood it could be, as little as a year ago. Taking time to grow matters, too.

If you don’t like where you are in life, right now, please go somewhere different. You have so much power to choose. Seriously. Yes, of course, there are verbs involved, and emotions to experience, and it isn’t always easy, or pretty, or fun – and yes, sometimes things can seem pretty suck as you go along. Incremental change over time is a thing, though, and it is powerful. What are you practicing? Will it take you farther down the path you choose? Will the outcome of your decisions and your actions be contentment, and perhaps happiness – or are you choosing some other goal, or wandering around with your eyes closed? I’m not judging – I’m just saying. Choice is powerful. Practice is powerful. Taking your time with change is powerful – and all of it is power that rests in your own hands, your own heart… are you ready to slow down, take the time you need, and grab a verb? 🙂

Tomorrow – or perhaps tonight – I will share the Parable of the Small Boy Waiting, and the story of a phone call. There’s time for that. Time isn’t infinite…but I’ve got right now. Today is a good day to be here, to be engaged, to be present in the moment. I’m okay right now.

I could as easily ask ‘what time is love?‘ – same answer: at the tone the time will be…’now’. It’s always ‘now’, actually, and never any other moment…unless, I suppose, we count the possibility of time travel, or perhaps the influence of huge quantities of certain hallucinogens. So… sure, okay, a few things may shake the unavoidable ‘now’…but…generally…’now’ is the time. Here we are. This is it. Whatever it is…it is.  This morning, ‘now’ came early – at 3:17 am, actually. I turned off the alarm once it was clear I was definitely entirely awake, and headed for the shower.

It’s still ‘now’. A shower, yoga, meditation and preparing coffee…and although it is later, it remains very much ‘now’. I can look ahead…it’s still simply ‘now’. I can look back…still, here I am, fixed firmly in the ‘now’ moment. Wherever I turn, ‘now’ is what I really have to work with. It’s not that the future is unaffected by ‘now’ – it is most definitely affected by ‘now’; every choice I make ripples through my future. Even the past is altered by ‘now’; my perspective changes with experience, with new information, with the passage of time itself. Still, however busy life is, all I have to work with, to enjoy, and to live is ‘now’.

Taking a few moments to consider an idea.

Taking a few moments to consider an idea.

What time is it? Right now it’s coffee time. My coffee this morning is quite dreadful. I am considering pouring it out and making a fresh cup. ‘Now’ matters that much; if I am not present in the moment, my actions may not be sufficiently relevant to my needs, and I may be unaware even of what my needs in the moment actually are. Me, personally, at 4:43 am…I need coffee, and frankly, my preference is that it be, if not exceptional, at least quite good. So…now I am going to make a fresh cup of coffee because this one… yeah… it sucks. It’s definitely important to pay attention while making coffee if using something that requires an artful touch, and some precision, as with a pour over. “Paying attention” is one way to describe mindfulness.

Second cup, no second thoughts – and it is still very much ‘now’. That’s how it tends to be – ‘now’. What will I do with the moment? I rarely pause to consider it, I simply do and be much of the time, and I don’t make that observation with any hint of criticism. I find life is to be lived. I strive to live well, and mindfully, and mostly doing so is more pleasant than not, and tends to result in a certain sense of worthiness to the entire endeavor – which seems worth having, and reason enough to work at it attentively, investing in good self-care practices, and learning to cope compassionately with my injury and my damage. ‘Now’ has become a pretty big deal.

Here’s something noteworthy about ‘now’, though – it’s easily wasted. It can slip away in an instant and become hours that have passed me by without action, without effort, without any investment of will and intent, and without significant result, or activity worthy of later recollection (I’m looking at you, television!). I find that almost any moment spent mindfully aware, even the painful ones, and yes, even the ones spent in stillness, meditating or watching clouds drift by, is a moment well spent. I remember more when I am awake, aware, and present. I have the sense that I am doing or achieving more, regardless how much ‘got done’. Life feels lived – as though the noun itself comes alive and gets all verb-y straight away – when I approach it mindfully, aware of my choices, deliberate in my actions. Time itself passes more slowly – and ‘now’ becomes of even greater value, extended, prolonged, and significant.

There’s nothing actually ‘easy’ about mindfulness. It’s also not actually ‘difficult’. It isn’t expensive to pursue it, and it requires no costly memberships or equipment. It need not be attached in any way to profit-generating activities, although it is clearly finding its cultural moment, and along the way many people are finding ways to market mindfulness or profit from it. The current popularity of mindfulness as a word, as a concept, and as an endeavor don’t make it any more likely that people will actually practice the needed practices to become more mindful – though many will say that they will, or do, or are. I don’t worry much about any of that, although I am sometimes frustrated to read articles that seem critical of practices I find have such value, myself. I worry, sometimes, that people innocent of the marketing bullshit, the hype, and the inevitable disappointment of people who expected it to be ‘easy’ or to ‘fix everything’ will result in someone who really needs what mindfulness has to offer not finding their way to it – that was my own experience. I didn’t get ‘here’ sooner; I was distracted by other people losing their way, being discouraged, and because I was discouraged, myself, the first time I was exposed to meditation – there were verbs involved, and more than one sort of practice, and… and… and… it’s not easy! (“Isn’t there some prescription, or…?”)

Mindfulness practices can be very simple and very basic. My own favorite meditation is not any sort of elaborate guided meditation with a soothing voice, lovely visual image, or lofty conceptualization – it isn’t necessary that it be such, and those don’t ‘work for me’ in the sense that although they may be soothing and pleasant, what I need myself is to become very centered, present, and calm within myself. I rely on meditation to keep me from standing on the precipice, to pull me back from the brink of disaster, to clean up the chaos and damage; the only world I am looking to change with any urgency is the world within. My own favorite meditation is simply to focus on my breath, to remain in this ‘now’ moment until I achieve stillness and inner calm. Yes. I have to keep at it. Yes. My mind wanders. Yes. I am sometimes distracted by physical discomfort, noise, stray thoughts, having to pee, and suddenly remembering other things that arise in my recollection attached to a sense of urgency. There’s no rush, no pressure, no report card, no internal criticism; I just keep at it until I do find that inner stillness. If’ I’m uncomfortable, I adjust – and begin again. If I am distracted, I take another breath, and begin again. If I have to pee, I take care of that biological need and begin again. If I remember something important that has been forgotten, I take a note and begin again (and often meditate with a notepad very near at hand for that reason). It’s called a practice for a reason – and there are most assuredly verbs involved.

“Does mindfulness work?” is a question with similar value as “what time is it?” – It really depends on what you are trying to find out. I find mindfulness practices very effective, myself, but the outcome is entirely dependent on my actions, my own investment in practicing the practice, and how well-chosen the practice is for my needs. If I were to discontinue the practice of meditation, would meditation itself be less effective because I stopped practicing it? Um…no. I might be less effective – but it would be a choice I make for myself, not a failure of meditation as a tool or practice.

The Stillness Within

“The Stillness Within” 8″ x 10″ acrylic on canvas w/glow 2014

The time is ‘now’. If one practice has failed, try another. If the ‘failure’ is simply a lack of actual practice, easier still – begin again. There are verbs involved, and there is all the ‘now’ in the world to use them. 🙂