Posts Tagged ‘living in the present’

Time. What to do with it?

“My God!”

“What do I do with the child flying down the yellow and red waterslide headfirst into the bright blue pool below?”

“It so beautiful, I want to stop time, and just sit and treasure the water, the child, the sunlight, the smile, the blue and the yellow and red for just a moment.”

“Can I, please?”

But instead at this very moment in time —  I am not in the waterslide moment in time — but I am seated on my couch at home and I am typing, the sound of the keys slipping from the immediate present into the immediate past,  and yet the present is so instantly transformed into the past that I am not at all sure that I can detect the flow.

I just finished that sentence that ended in “flow,” and the refrigerator just started humming, and the cat just left the couch beside me but as soon as I type out these events they are past.

What you are reading right now — in the present — are words I created in the past, and even as your eyes move to the next word, that word is transformed into the past for you. My past writing — as you read it in the present — immediately enters your past.

In essence: My present becomes my past becomes your present becomes your past while rushing toward the future — this is time.

Odd.

Amazing.

Slippery.

Fascinating.

Time is the progression of existence and events rushing in a seemingly irreversible  direction, the past gobbling up the present and the future opening its mouth to gobble up them both.

Time is an arrow dragging us with us through the air as we fly over the landscape of existence.

Or is the arrow only in our minds? We don’t know, for sure.

What to do?

For one — although we cannot seem to hunt time down, put it in a box or bank or test tube and stop its flow in order to examine it — we can enjoy it.

How?

By leaning into every moment, by slowing time down so to speak by focusing on what is right in front of us and deep seeing it for what it is and what it does in the immediate moment in which it occurs.

Time brings reality to our doorstep, but it is our choice, and our honor, and our privilege to shake hands with it and hug it and appreciate it — or not. Time brings loss and gain, well-being and pain, beauty and ugliness near and then makes it the past. Our privilege is to peer in on it intently. Our gain is in experiencing time deeply, and in savoring it deeply, and in noticing it keenly.

Earlier this week I saw a child on a waterslide, flying down a rubber slope, splashing into a clean pool below, fingers extended to slow the ending, face lighting up with sheer water-good, safe-and-well, time-immersed joy. The child, for me, was the arrow of time slicing through good air, earth, fire and water toward the good and persistent future.

I saw it! I was there.

I saw her — the lovely child — sliding down the slide as the culmination of my recent work, my current life, my immediate purpose. I was on the team that built the wall that inclosed the courtyard, that sheltered the grass that held the waterslide that slid the child that made the gorgeous, lovely, happy moment possible!

And to the extent that I was hyper-attentive, and saw the smile framed by the flying water droplets that flew through safe-air that rose high into the divine and holy moment at the amazingly beautiful REFINERY  Church — to that extent I truly experienced and understood time.

Time — that bright, sharp, fast arrow just keeps flying — and here I am, finishing my ruminations this morning, and then I am off to work, and you too, moving on now, to something else besides reading what I have written for you.

And yet, it is good, it is all good, and it is ours, our existence, our door to keep opening, our arrow, our child, our experience to love, and to savor.

Do that, savor time, luxuriate in time, splash in time, dive into time even as it dives into you, and even as it flows now into the next savory moment of your existence, for in it, in time — and in Him, in God, the creator and the master of time — you live and move and have your beautiful ever-flowing being.

For the good life, do this: Deep savor time today — and keep an eye out for joyful children on water slides.

As I was driving down a street this week, I glanced through my driver’s side window and found myself looking through a bus window in the lane besides me. And through my window and the bus window, I saw a set of eyes looking at me. We saw each other through two moving windows — my car, his bus —  right in the eyes, maybe six feet away. He was an older gentleman, Mexican I think, with a serious expression.

We were both moving along the street,  framed in our windows and with that one, short glance we traveled together until I looked back at the road to see where I was going.

As I drove on I wondered, “What was he thinking? Was it, ‘I’m glad I don’t have to drive, that I can just ride home peacefully on the bus.’  or perhaps, ‘I hope someday I have a car again, so I can come and go as I please.'” Was he perhaps thinking about something that has happened to him in a small village in Mexico, where he grew up, thinking so intensely about when he was a child, about that time when his mother …

I don’t know, but it brings up the question for me:  How present am I, in the community of the present, in the collaborative  of the moment, in the social within the now, in the car, watching the man in the bus, in the now of the now within the core of the very now?

I remember Pascal’s observation that we wander around in times that don’t really belong to us. Remembering the past, we miss the present; worrying about the future, we may not even see someone right in front of us.

That happens, but increasingly I am find myself wanting to travel in the present, which means to actually look over and see the man in the bus traveling beside me, to see him in all his obfuscated beauty, to not really understand him but nonetheless to  see him as my companion in the now, and understand that we have a shared, universal human journey, asserted and expressed in the raw, transient and yet extant present.

The bus rider and I share the same street, the same city, the same state, the same country, the same world, the same universe. He is my brother. We share the DNA of the present. We share the current animal, vegetable, mineral, social, political, spiritual now. Am I making too much of this? I am not making enough of this! We have missed, missed, missed and missed this infinitely.

I want to see my world. I want to live fully in it and with it.  To see it, I must look at it. To look at it, I must linger on it, for a moment. I must dawdle in time, fiddle around in the present, goof off in the slip and slide of the near and the immediate. Indeed, after seeing the man on the bus,  I should have pulled over at the next bus stop and gotten on, introduced myself as the man in the car, and asked him about himself. Then I would have discovered a bit of how different from me he is, and how much the same, how perhaps, he is really me, and I am him.

I have lived in the same community for a long time.  I know a lot of people! I talk with people all day long. Do I need another conversation, do I need another friend? Do I need to be getting on busses when I have a car, to be accosting old men on public transportation?

I do! We do! We should! We have not even begun to enter into what is present for us, to bridge, to connect, to converse, to empathize, to understand, to laugh, to grieve, to know each other, to actually see, touch, think with and understand each other.

There are no projects, no work loads, no places to get to, no duties waiting here, no responsibilities lingering there that should keep glass between us.

There are no class or economic or social or racial or religious differences that are so compelling that these should keep us from busing a short while with each other.

There are no memories so strong as to erase the moment of your unique presence here on this street with me; there are no worries so strong as to obscure the immediacy of the precious you-ness of you here with me.

I have a prayer I have been praying, and I recommend it to anyone who wants to live in the uniqueness of the social now.

“God, I beg you, send me my people. Send me Indian people. Send me Chinese people. Send me Brazilian people. Send me Mexican people. Send me anyone you wish, but please send them all. God, I beg you, drive your bus up my street and bring me my people so that I can befriend them and take care of them.”

Why pray this?

I pray this out of the awareness that this is my present-tense reality, and that I want more of it  — the bus, the window, another person, our eyes meeting.

There really is nothing else here, right now except this kind of divine, immediate sociality. The past is gone, the future not yet come, nothing but the present moment and all the beautiful people God sees fit to give me in it.