“Now is the only time. How we relate to it creates the future.Inother words, if we’re goingto be more cheerful in the future, it’s because of our aspiration and exertion to be cheerful in the present. What we do accumulates; the future is the result of what we do now.” [Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart, p. 144]
This has been one of the hardest lessons for me to learn, one that I continue to wrestle with on a day to day basis. And, it isn’t because of procrastination – at least that is what I try to convince myself. I am learning, albeit very slowly it seems. Take this morning for example: Everyday (well almost everyday) I go for a long walk after morning meditation and breakfast. The plan was for a snorkelling activity with friends. However, I had this urge to write, to wrestle with whatever wanted to appear within my psyche. This work, really a journey that is my unique journey of the moment, has become vital to me, valued enough to stick with it. If I didn’t stick with my “urge” I know I would only end up feeling guilty for not doing so, and perhaps a bit resentful and less sociable with the activity. Feeling guilty would then lead me to lose my peace of mind and a bit miserable. Sticking with my urge leaves me feeling better about myself as the work releases a bit of old toxin, old poisons, old anxieties which then leave me feeling better balanced, more peaceful and even more cheerful in my quiet way.
I’ve watched where in the past I dismissed doing what my heart pulled me in favour of what others wanted, or thought they wanted. Of course, since I wasn’t able to put my full heart into that moment of other-directed activity, I found myself desperately trying to bury the ache for what I had abandoned. It rarely ended as well as one would hope for, even when I thought I had put on my best face and tried as hard as possible to be the man, the son, the father, the friend, the teacher, the coach, etc., that others wanted and thought they needed from me. I told myself that I would do the next day the thing that I had dismissed, or in the summer, or when I retired, or when . . . I was fooling myself. If I didn’t honour my own spirit, my own journey “now,” it was just that, choosing misery over honest well-being.
Now, now I am making more and more choices to be in the present as I need to be in the present, not delaying my work, my journey by dismissing it as secondary, as less worthy than what others want or expect from me. My wife has been the biggest blessing and the greatest support in my being able to make this shift in self-respect. “If you want to do it, do it! Don’t wait for my permission,” is her frequent response to my frequent questions. “There is no right way or wrong way, just do what you need to do.” And now, rather than seeing this as her giving me permission, I am learning that is my self giving me permission. It is a lesson that has resulted in my becoming an authentically more cheerful person, where my smiles now include my eyes and the being behind the eyes