Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Here and Now

No-one will ever convince me that a sense of humour isn't one of the greatest attributes of divinity. If not, how is it that we are so often jolted out of our everyday stupor by delightful absurdities?
May I share one such instance?

The other day, on Monday to be precise, I had several letters to post. On reaching the post-box I pushed the envelopes through the opening. As I did so, my eye was caught by the small metal tag giving details of the next collection. I was somewhat startled to read that the next collection was to take place NOW. It took me a moment to realise what must have happened. The postman, probably a little behind schedule on his rounds, had been clumsy in handling the small metal tag and had inserted it upside down. What should have read MON, instead read NOW.

The experience pulled me up sharply and gave the moment a wonderful sense of immediacy. I was brought into the 'now' with a vengence! And, of course, the small metal tag was perfectly correct, at whatever moment the postman chose to arrive it would undoubtedly be NOW.

I don't know about you, but I find it hard to stay in the 'now'. The temptation for me is always to slip back into an edited version of a remembered 'then', or to reach out towards an imagined 'when'.
To be honest, I think I'm a little scared of 'now'. Anything can happen in 'now'. It's new and totally unpredictable. There are no sign-posts, no landmarks.

It has been said that we spend at least ninety-per cent of our time not in the 'now', but cruising on auto-pilot. Our physical functions need no attention from us. Our breathing and digestive systems are automatic, our hearts are programmed to beat. It all works far better without our interference. Even the thoughts and reactions, which occupy us and colour the present, are largely products distilled from the past.
The past may not be ideal, but it's familiar.
Heaven knows (quite literally!) what we'd find in the 'now' if we were rash enough to investigate!

Reflecting on the postman's unintended message, I was struck by the thought that everything is contained in the 'now'. Quite apart from there being no past and no future, there are no memories, hopes or anxieties. It is total, self-contained and perfect. There is no way that your interfering thoughts can improve on 'now'. It is also, as I realised to my surprise, somewhere where the colours are brighter, the sounds are sharper and where, suddenly, the world, of which we are all an integral part, seems fully and vibrantly alive.

So . . . where am I in time when I'm writing this to you?
It's a sobering answer: finding words from the past to express memories of last Monday!

But, let's learn from last Monday.
Let's switch off the computer and go out into the garden . . . who knows, the impact of a rose could prove every bit as powerful as that of a clumsy postman!