NOW! HERE! THIS!
Transcript of talk presented on 8/23/20
for the Unitarian Universalist Gathering of South County via Zoom
My brother sent me a link to a youtube of a band called “Leonid & Friends”- they are from Russia and perform music from the band Chicago. The song they were doing in the video was “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It is?” Beside being impressed with the expertise of this band and how much they sounded like the original, it also gave me an idea and that’s what I want to talk to you about this morning.
SO-What time IS it? According to my watch it's10:55. But not if you’re in another time zone, like the midwest or Far East. What if you’re a dog or a cat or someone who doesn’t have a watch or a clock? What time is it for them?
It’s THE ONLY time that it really can be: NOW.
Around the world, despite different time zones we all live in “NOW” and it is a common NOW, it’s only the HERE that is unique.
Sometimes there is a common “THIS”- like COVID- that also unites us.
I remember when I first was told that the only time that really exists is NOW!, I thought to myself, That can’t be right.
Yesterday was real, it existed, history is real - it happened. So did the things I remember that I did when I was 17 ( I think) . What I did when I got up this morning really happened- isn’t that all real?
No-not exactly- the past no longer exists. It existed. These were real - they happened. Past tense. And truthfully, memory is a slippery thing and I am not always accurate in my memories - especially long ago memories. Sometimes these can take on a life of their own-sometimes they can keep me trapped in something, like a belief that is no longer true.
According to an article in the Harvard Gazette by Dan Gilbert, it’s estimated that the average person spends about 47% of their time mind wandering, mostly to the past - with some excursions to the future. Neither of these exists other than in memory or imagination.
All that there IS, IS the Present moment - the Now.
All the previous nows led you here to this moment NOW.
Initially this concept kind of blew my mind and I wanted to argue it, but as I considered what it was telling me I saw it was true.
I started to ask myself during my day, at random times, “Where I am I right NOW?”
As I began to pay attention I was truly shocked-so much of the time I was somewhere else. I saw how things would jump into my mind- something would happen in the NOW and immediately my mind was remembering something from 1987.
I started to see that I often filtered what was occurring in the NOW through the lens of some past experience…and oftentimes this led me to respond or react in ways that no longer applied. Sometimes this caused me pain and struggle that need not have happened.
Does this ever happen to you?
So HERE we all are NOW. The NOW always happens HERE for you and me-
Where I am, it is- and that’s the same with you.
Today we’re here together - at least digitally thanks to Zoom.
SO…..What happens in the NOW and the HERE?
The only time you can do something, like pet a dog, kiss a loved one, write a letter, play a guitar-change your underwear or a thought or reaction- is NOW and HERE.
I went to Italy a year ago. I took wonderful pictures of the beauty I saw there and Jane made a calendar with these pictures. When I look at them, I see the beauty again, but I am experiencing it NOW- and even if the memory of taking the picture comes to me- I can only “Feel” the joy of this in the NOW, because that’s where it is happening- if I don’t bring myself present to this NOW I am missing something NOW as I try to hold on to what was.
Now …don’t get me wrong, I am not saying you shouldn’t reminisce or recall things- the gift of experiences are that they do live in us and to bring them forth is an important part of the journey each of us is on in this story called “My Life”. At time we need to bring the good things from the past forward to remind us and help us through a tough time. We just don’t want to get stuck there for the reason I have given-change only happens NOW.
If what Dan Gilbert says, that 47 % of the time we are engaged in mind wandering and not present, then we’re missing a part of our life.
I also want to say that there is plenty of research regarding the benefit of allowing the mind to go free and wander, this is how inspiration works as well as the opportunities for play and restoration that our minds need, so it is a good thing to let the mind wander and we absolutely need this.
I note that in practically all the Spiritual traditions there are practices such as contemplation or meditation, designed to bring us to this present moment.
Breath connects us to the present moment.
As we all know, not every present moment is necessarily a pleasant moment. What about that?
Well the good news is that it is also a passing moment.
So it will be replaced with the next one.
AGAIN- It is only in the NOW- the present- that we can choose how to act, how to think- if we can become mindful of this it gives us a chance to change. We can chose better, kinder, wiser actions and when we do, then these become the building blocks- the pieces building our next moment which will become our future.
We are being called to wake up- collectively as well as individually.
In those difficult moments, if we remain present in the NOW and HERE, we get to decide- can we change THIS moment? Perhaps not the circumstances, but how we respond, and THIS can make all the difference.
The world will not change until I change, and that is the work of a lifetime.
It's not easy but it's why we're all here.
Let me conclude with the words of St. Francis:
Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what is possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.