Why Bother to be Present?

Back in the 1970s, when I was a teenager, there was a book written by Ram Das entitled Be Here Now. When I heard that title it made me giggle. Where else would I be but right here?  Now that I am no longer that naive teenager and instead, a full grown adult, that statement, “be here now” is no longer funny, instead, it is a daily challenge for me. 

      Don’t Be So Preoccupied

I never did read that book, but over the years, I have immersed myself in another one, the Bible. I’ve read it through more than once and in the process, have underlined, journaled and mediated on passages that tug at my heart and my conscience. 

One of the amazing details about Jesus’ life was that he walked on this earth, among men and women, and felt what they felt; the pangs of being human. For that reason, he was able to give timeless advice on how to live with the common ailments that everyone of us wrestles with. One such dilemma is our preoccupation with the future. Everyone is deeply concerned about tomorrow, so much so that we forget about today. 

Sometimes, I wake up in the middle of a good night’s slumber and start ruminating on my “to do” list for a day that has not yet begun. Ugh! 

Other times, in the middle of the day, while teaching, bending my ear to hear a child’s concern or reading an email from my administrator, I imagine the seemingly endless tasks that vie for my attention. How and when will I ever get them done?

 When these anxious thoughts arise, my body also responds. My shoulders tense, I forget to breathe and my pulse quickens. It takes a conscious effort for me to remember to live one moment at a time, and to not race ahead to the next.

But why? Why try? What good does this do? Why is being in the moment and not in the future, so important? 

Yesterday, I came home from yet another busy day at work. As always, I’d left behind a pile of unfinished business on my desk. But, the sun was shining, the sky was cloudless and the temperature near 50 degrees. Pulling into the driveway, I saw my husband sitting in a lawn chair on the southside of the garage, the warmest spot in our yard. Waving to him, I dropped my gear on the kitchen counter, stripped out of my work clothes and into something more comfortable. Then I joined my husband on the sunny southside of our yard.

It wasn’t hard for me to be in the moment. Over the course of the next hour my body absorbed the warmth from the sun, and relaxed in the company of the man I love. We conversed about our day apart from each other, and enjoyed the moments of reuniting. I did not worry about what I’d left behind at work or what I would have to do tomorrow. It was enough to be in the moment, with my husband, basking in the warmth from the sun. 

Why bother to be present? Each day has enough trouble of its own and even in that troubling moment, we have all that we need. If we miss out on the moment, we miss out on the present of that moment.

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