Saturday 16 September 2017

Just Saying

This quote popped up on my facebook feed during the week. The problems of NOW have been swirling around in my brain ever since.

We are living in a culture entirely hypnotized by the illusion of time, in which the so-called present moment is felt as nothing but an infintesimal hairline between an all-powerfully causative past and an absorbingly important future. 
We have no present. 
Our consciousness is almost completely preoccupied with memory and expectation. We do not realize that there never was, is, nor will be any other experience than present experience. 
We are therefore out of touch with reality. 
We confuse the world as talked about, described, and measured with the world which actually is. We are sick with a fascination for the useful tools of names and numbers, of symbols, signs, conceptions and ideas.

― Alan W. Watts (Become What You Are, 1955)

I love the idea of NOW and being present in the moment. I've even managed to do so on many occasions. But I get confused about how reflection and planning fit into this idea of NOW.

The only place we can physically be is HERE & NOW, but we have minds. And those minds can wander off all over the place.

I feel that we should use those minds - to reflect on past mistakes, successes and problems to help us manage the stuff that pops up NOW. Those fickle minds can also help us plan for and imagine a future so that we can set up stuff NOW that might be useful later on. In another NOW.

Being HERE & NOW is peaceful, but is it practical?

We cannot relive our memories or inhabit the future, but can we not experience happiness NOW by remembering some of those sweet times past and dreaming about the ones to come?

If NOW is all we have, what's the point of having a memory and an imagination?



  1. I picked up on one of your quotes: "Our consciousness is almost completely preoccupied with memory and expectation. 2 years ago I stopped an intense fitness program with personal trainer.
    Since then the 'past' has encroached upon my ability to enjoy the NOW. Finally I faced the inevitable. I returned to my training...every muscle in my body aces...except my mind, my NOW.
    The easiest thing in life is to think of solutions, the difficult part is to choose a solution.

    1. I'm very guilty of letting thoughts outside the NOW get in my way. I tend to fret about future stuff - catastrophizing what might happen, going over conversations I will never have. None of it is useful at all.

  2. Living in the now is great when things are going well. We should indeed pay attention to what we're actually doing and embrace the blessings of the moment. *But* we need memory and hope for the future to get through the tough stuff. "Living in the now" always reminds me of a little guy I knew (OK, I still know him, but he's a lot bigger now) -- when something didn't go his way, it was a total disaster. He would drop to the floor in utter despair; you never saw such a picture of misery. Because he really did live in the now, and the now felt terrible! So I think there are certain drawbacks to living in the now. If the now involves pain, we need the past and the future in order to know that pain doesn't last forever.

    1. That's one of the things I was thinking about Jean.
      After watching a much loved aunt go through her ghastly cancer treatment, talking & laughing about happy times gone by was one of the ways we got through the hard days.

  3. I love this - thanks very much for sharing it. I read it when you first put it up and it's actually been on my mind all week. I'm very bad indeed at living in the now - if I'm not thinking of the past or future I'm day-dreaming!


This blog has now moved to Wordpress.
Please visit This Reading Life to comment.

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.