I wish you were here. It’s hard to really enjoy myself without you. I try to be open to your presence but my mind keeps wandering amid hopes and disappointments.
I’ve been meditating every day—30 minutes in the morning, 15 at night. That helps me settle down a bit, but I rarely see you or get to walk with you along the beaches of today.
Even while meditating, I always seem to have some program I’m following: I need to watch the breath, treat the sound of the clock as a presence not a message, the whine of the pipes as a woodwind solo not a summons to action.
Are you here now, “present moment”? Or does my busyness prevent me from being with you? Even in the midst of my seemingly endless doing, I consider you to be the sponsor of my life: the billow that blows into me each inhalation, thought, aspiration, and flicker of appreciation. It seems that “I” am the one who is missing in action, while I rummage through the warehouses of memory, construct plans, and react reflexively.
Exercise: Blooming Flower.
In this exercise, write a love letter to the present moment. Study it carefully, appreciate its specific details. Tell it how much it matters to you. If the present moment is sad or difficult, treat it as you would a struggling friend, send it encouragement and inspiration.” Caring, by Tarthang Tulku, Dharma Publishing, 2018, Page 79.
“Present moment”, do you really have challenges too? You seem to always be there (I mean here); invincible in a world that often appears broken and barren of hope.
What can I do to help? When I am galloping off, only to discover that you are not on board, should I be harkening to whispers from where you really are?
I wonder if you will be with me when I die. I don’t seem to have any certainty that a “present moment” (that’s my name for you) will be at my side at that time.
Perhaps there’s a deeper present moment—not easily found in all the responsibilities and fears of disaster that keep me pacing on the dog run of my days.
Could I be looking for something which—like a pair of glasses perched on top of my head—is already fully present: like an ocean in which I am already floating, like a wind that has already lifted me aloft, like the ground that always holds me steady? But if water, air and earth will one day vanish for me will I then be left with just a background illumination that has no use for my individual anxieties?
I certainly won’t complain, now or later, if my consciousness (that’s what I call my relationship with you) winks out, or flows back into a surrounding sea, as if my life was just the pouring of a cup of water back into a lake, or the rinsing of a child’s soapy head in the bathtub of memory. But if something like this current “present moment” abides, I wonder what it will be like to experience it without a body. I wonder how I could be preparing for that kind of present moment, now that I do have a body.
And within this present embodiment, could I be discovering what you really are?
It would help if you came a little closer; if you peered around the veil that stands between us. Can you not whisper in my ear again the secret that keeps falling out of mind?
“Each of us knows that one day, perhaps soon, our time on earth will be at an end, and our body will disappear. Now is the time to act, to seize every minute, every opportunity, day by day. At home, at work, at play: it does not matter. What matters is care.” Caring, page 83.
Perhaps the best protection we can bring with us as we head into an unknown future—within this familiar present and in the unknown hereafter alike—is caring. The hungry ghosts of unfulfilled longing, the would-be dictators bent on control, the suffering demons of despair: these are not the friends we will want, either tomorrow or in the hereafter. But if we learn to care for ourselves, for those around us, and for the planet that is our living home; then when we find ourselves floating in space, adrift in disembodied dreams, caring will be our best friend.
Caring does not look outside for a rescue from uncertainty and discomfort. Caring looks around for ways to be of help. And if, after this lifetime, oblivion awaits us, then at least we will have pulled our share of the load while we were here.