Sunday, February 23, 2014

This Moment, Not the One Before or the One That Hasn't Happened Yet

Downton Abbey will be a two hour extravaganza, and I don't think I have the stamina to blog through it, plus, as I've mentioned, it takes away from the pleasure of watching to some extent, because I'm looking more at the computer screen that at the TV and I'm also multi-tasking--uploading photos, correcting spelling errors, etc. So, for tonight, I'll just watch. And maybe have some tea and ginger cookies that my mom made and brought for us today.

When we go to bed, both Dan and I read for a while, but I'm almost always reading a novel or short stories (just got The Best American Short Stories for 2013, which has stories from many of my favorite writers--Lorrie Moore, Junoz Diaz, Charles Baxter, George Saunders) and Dan is almost always reading something related to yoga or meditation or Buddhism or some such crap like that. He uses what he reads to teach his yoga classes, and he will sometimes come across a phrase that strikes him as particularly meaningful and will read it out loud to me. I will tolerate this and nod, and wait until he's satisfied that I've taken that in before I go back to my book. But usually, whatever he reads stays with me for at least a little while. He's currently reading Eckhart Tolle's book, The Power of Now which is a basically a book that points out how most of us live in a constant state of not now. We are either thinking about the past or projecting into the future; neither of which is useful, of course, because the past has happened and is unchangeable, and the future hasn't happened and is mostly out of our control. I'll try to find the sentence he read to me, because it was startling and because I identified with it--as I am usually in some state of replaying a moment from the past or worst-case-scenario-ing something that's going to happen in the future.

Part of my problem is that I function under the misconception that there is a right way to do things; or like, there is a secret key to the way any given situation should be handled, and so I sometimes rewind a scene to imagine what might have happened, had I said or done something differently. Or, in the same vein, if I'm worried about something, I imagine what could occur, if I say one thing or another, or if I act completely out of character--as if I'm likely to suddenly develop Tourette's and stand up in the middle of a dull meeting, screaming obscenities. It's never happened in my life, and it likely will never happen, but I am capable of making up tons of ways I could mess up a situation.

Eckhart Tolle would say that this is not a useful way to spend one's time; though it does serve a purpose; it helps to keep you from experiencing whatever is actually happening in the moment. Why would person want to avoid this moment? Because, I guess, this moment might show you something you don't want to deal with--it might mean you'd have to face the fact that you're not writing enough, or not active enough, or that you're sad or disappointed or that maybe you might miss someone and don't want to think about that either.

Here is the quote he read to me (fair warning, he sees the word "now" as a proper noun:

"Have you ever experienced, done, thought, or felt anything outside the Now? do you think you ever will? Is it possible for anything to happen or be outside the Now? The answer is obvious, is it not?

Nothing ever happened in the past; it happened in the Now.

Nothing will ever happen in the future; it will happen in the Now.

What you think of as the past is a memory trace, stored in the mind, of a former Now. When you remember the past, you reactivate a memory trace--and you do so now. The future is an imagined Now, a projection of the mind. When the future comes, it comes as the Now. When you think about the future, you do it now. Past and future obviously have no reality of their own. Just as the moon has no light of its own, but can only reflect the light of the sun, so are the past and future only pale reflections of the light, power and reality of the eternal present. Their reality is borrowed from the Now."

In other words, instead of watching DA and thinking about what I am going to write about it, if I will have time to put it out on social media without mistakes, I'm going to watch the show.

Here is Eckhart not now, but at some point in the remembered Now with a calico on his shoulder.


1 comment:

PinkPanthress said...

I read his book "Now" 2 years ago & thought it was not bad... but I didn't like how condescending it sometimes sounded, like... if you can't live in the Now & can't let the pain(or insert any other negative word here) go past/flow through you, YOU'RE A LOSER!

I mean... he has it easy, living in lovely Vancouver & sitting on good money, right!?