Journeys: Life–Now

“Life is available only in the present. That is why we should walk in such a way that every step can bring us to the here and the now.”  Buddhist Teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh

I have a tendency, especially during the school year, at almost the moment of waking up for the day to begin a mental race through my day’s agenda (agenda–from the Latin meaning “things that must be done.”).  The process helps me wake up.  It helps orient my mental, emotional and physical energies for the day–toward the things that “must be done.”  Those are all good things, right?  I think that they can be, but I’ve also noticed that beginning the day by mentally racing through what must be done today also invites internal reactions toward a day that has hardly unfolded yet.  On any given day, there are going to be things that “must be done” that I don’t really want to do.  As soon as I get to one of those on my agenda, I almost instantly create an internal reaction.  It’s something like “yuck, I don’t want to do that.”  Some days, the words are stronger.

What I realize is that in an attempt to take care of life responsibly, I’ve also rushed myself into the future a little bit, reacted to things I don’t like there, and brought reaction back to the present. Then, every walking around moment has the potential for being tinged with a negative reaction about something that hasn’t even happened yet.

Thich Nhat Hanh translates Buddhist wisdom for us by reminding us that real life only ever exists in the present.  In his talks, some of which I have been privileged to be present for in person and others which I enjoy reading in his many books he teaches:

It is possible to live happily in the here and now. So many conditions of happiness are available—more than enough for you to be happy right now. “

What conditions of happiness are you touching, seeing, tasting, breathing right now?  Take a moment and allow some condition of happiness to come into your awareness from this present moment.  The joy, however small, of what you encounter right now can begin to color the rest of your day.  This the journey, today, one step at a time, in the present moment.

Bob Patrick

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