Friday, March 21, 2008

Don't Lose A Moment

I admit that like most working people I wake up on Monday morning with a sense of dread about starting a new work week. On Monday's Friday seems so far away. Yet, here we are on another Friday standing at the threshold of the weekend. For most of us weekends and vacation times seem to go by in a blur. For me all days, even the work weeks, sometimes seem to go by in a blur. It didn't seem that long ago that we were celebrating Christmas and now Easter is here. I know it's all a matter of perception. Each day is 24 hours long. Each minute takes a minute to pass. An hour lasts an hour. Einstein explains this feeling with his theory of relativity. He uses the example of two lovers kissing. If you kiss for one minute, it seems like the blink of an eye. At the same time if you sit on a hot stove for a minute it seems like an eternity. I believe your perception of time changes dramatically as you age. When you are young and at the beginning of your life's journey, you think you have forever to get wherever you are going. At my current age I sometimes wonder where my life has gone. It sometimes feels like I blinked and I was fast forwarded from 27 to 57 overnight. As my 83 year old father lies dying in a nursing home, he must wonder, in lucid moments, if his next breath will be his last. I think all of these thoughts are a reminder of how important it is to slow down and live in the moment. If you're always on the run, and thinking ahead to the next hour or the next day, you will miss the time you are in now. The hours and days accumulate and eventually they because a lifetime. You don't want to have a sudden moment of awareness in your future realizing that you have no memory of how you got where you are or what happened along the way. As the author Ram Dass says, "Be here now"!

Sticking my toe a little deeper into the Tao Te Ching...Western society is deeply mired in dualistic thinking. We compartmentalize our thinking making everything good or bad, right or wrong, beautiful or ugly. Contemplate the insight that duality is a mind game. Beauty doesn't mean anything unless you consider something else ugly. Does an elephant look at another elephant and think, "She's not very pretty"! Live your life unencumbered with thoughts of what you should and should not do. For instance, imagine that you are an otter just living your "otterness". Does an otter waste time wondering if he is acting like an otter? If you're an otter you're not good or bad, beautiful or ugly, a hard worker or a slacker. You're simply an otter, moving through the water or on the land freely, peacefully, playfully, and without judgements. Understand that you can act without the implied judgement of words like effort and trying. You can compete without being focused on outcomes. Eliminating opposites paradoxically unifies them so that it's unnecessary to identify with one position. It doesn't have to be an either/or question. In the Tao Te Ching the Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu encourages us to just the otter.

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