|A new film by Julie Taymor coming out in December|
If you've been reading my blog for any time you probably know that from time to time I take a look at the past: my life yesterday, my life a few years ago, my childhood. I look at the past to illustrate the present, to see where I've been and what brought me Here. I don't spend much time there, in the past, not a good habit, nor do I have the desire to do so. I don't yearn for what was, whether it was six days ago, six months ago, six years ago, or my childhood (not six decades, but getting close). I prefer to spend my time in the present and I strive to stay present to each moment, to what Life offers Here. But, I have some mighty fine memories and sometimes they get called up in this process of writing and they seem befitting, appropriate for the ideas that are percolating in my noggin.
I was thinking about how we view our lives, individually and collectively. It's a notion that gets a lot of press, this notion of staying in the Now, and I'm a firm believer that it's essential to our well-being, on every level. I love the book, Be Here Now, by Ram Dass. I like the format and what it teaches about staying in the Now. Published in 1969, it was originally distributed as a pamphlet by the Lama Foundation, then gifted to the Hanuman Foundation for more widespread distribution. But, consider if you will (Twilight Zone?): try having a conversation that is totally in the present. I mean it. Try it. Try it with your significant other, a friend, or a small group of friends. See where the conversation goes, watch the words you use. Be honest about what is happening, no caveats. I've done this with a small group of friends and it's an interesting exercise. It gets kinda boring. Actually, it gets real boring. And real repetitious. How much can you say about the present moment?
To wit: it's another beautiful moment here in north central Minnesota. The sky is blue, the sun is shining, it's rather chilly. The light falling across my living room chair is lovely, soft and warm against the polished stump I call an end table. Oops, now it's gone. My coffee maker is gurgling, reminding me to shut it off. Oops. Too late. It's done. A squirrel is in my yard. Oops, he's gone. That was then. This is now.
See? It ain't easy. And did I mention kinda boring?
Let's use another somewhat larger example: the stars. I was thinking about the stars (imagine that!) and I remembered that every star we see is long gone, burned out a looong time ago. Should we stop looking up at them, "recalling" them, honoring them? I don't plan to any time soon and I bet you don't either. It's fun and brings meaning into my life. Along with a whole host of other ideas, memories that are in "the past."
Remember my post two days ago? The video ended with the phrase "the future is now." Or, how about a more widespread and probably more well-known example: "what is past is prologue." It comes from Shakespeare's play "The Tempest." I like to look at the entire exchange, but for this purpose, the entire phrase: "What is past is prologue, what to come, in yours and my discharge." As I see it, it's all really aspects of Now: the past, the present, and the future. Our personal history shapes our present and our future. Our collective history does as well. Can we outrun it? Outwit it? I doubt it. Can we transform it ? Transcend it? Darn tootin'. It's been done. Time and time again, on a personal level. Saul, as he was transformed into Paul on the road to Damascus, is my favorite example. All traditions, spiritual and otherwise, have them. Collectively, it seems to be taking a bit more time...or is it?
"The Tempest" Eugene Delacroix
I love witnessing the unfoldment of life, mine, yours, ours. It's all the same. Perpetual beauty, if we choose to see it. Yes, it sometimes appears challenging, Very challenging. But, I have said this before and will say it again: it all brought me Here. Now. To this fine moment, to this beautiful place. I hope you find yourself here, too, in this fine moment, in this beautiful place.
I circle around God, the primordial tower, and I circle ten thousand years long; and I still don't know if I'm a falcon, a storm, or an unfinished song.
~Rainer Maria Rilke