So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Psalm 90:12
For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. James 4:14(b)
(Both verses 21st Century King James Version)
Be here now. Ram Dass
I know everybody’s busy being all merry for the Holiday season; and the supposed prevailing attitude is “joy”. However, what I’m talking about may be a downer to some of the Holiday crowd. Yet this is a personal story that I need to share.
Back in September, I was in Lower Manhattan en route to Brooklyn for the Photoville program at Brooklyn Bridge Park, which I posted in “Thoughts from Photoville”. It was a nice evening for me to walk through Lower Manhattan and then cross the Brooklyn Bridge on foot to the park.
Emerging from the World Trade Center PATH station, I failed to realize that the station exited north; I thought I was going east. As I walked, I was trying to ascertain what direction I was walking; and yes, I was looking at my smartphone. I didn’t realize I was coming to a corner and that my light was red…
Next thing a black blur shot in front of my face, and my hand touched something hard. I came face-to-face with a fast-moving black Ford Edge. I’m not going to lie to you and say my heart didn’t hit the “pause” button for a moment. For one moment, my world stopped. As I collected my thoughts, I could see the Ford slow for a minute then speed ; its driver probably saw I was alive and well. After a few minutes, I continued my walk and had an enjoyable and uneventful night. Later that night, I only told my wife about my event.
I pretty much went on with life until recent when the images of that night came back to mind. I realized now much I ignore the world around me. I get too focused on my little world that I fail to be present now. I realize that I have at times checked out of the world around me and lived in my own world with my thoughts, fantasies, and such. This can be quite easy for us to do in our hectic world, as it serves as a place to hide.
However, at any moment my life can be winked out of existence-like the proverbial wink of an eye. The close brush with the car reminded me that something can come out of nowhere at any time and change my life instantly. As James in the above Scripture says so truthfully, our lives are “vapor”-like the morning fog which disappears in no time at all. We can go from “now” to “was” in a heartbeat.
We’re so “out of it” that we miss out on truly living life. We pay no attention to the good and bad around us, and slowly lose our presence here on Earth. We can sometimes be so wrapped up in ourselves, we forget the others in our lives. Although I was focused on a smartphone map, it was symbolic of a greater issue: not paying attention to life. What’s so sad it that it sometimes takes a sudden jolt-illness, death of a loved one, financial upset, etc-to get us back to where we belong. I had to learn this by coming almost face-to-face with possible death, or at best, injury.
When we’re jolted into reality, it can be a painful experience. As I said earlier, it sometimes takes some crisis in our lives to bring us back from our reverie into reality. However, we can learn from such a crisis-like I did with my near date with a speeding crossover. I learned that I had to pay attention to life about me. That my life is short in the eternal time frame, and can be winked out anytime.
When we learn to be present-now-in our lives, the more wise we become. Like the psalmist above prayed, we will be able to number our days-pay close attention to life and our living it-and apply our hearts to wisdom. We start to see everything as it truly is, and as Ram Dass exhorted above, to “be here now”. We’ll also develop a greater capacity to love, of empathy, of spiritual communion, and to be one with the Universe. We’ll truly learn to live engaged and full, not just existing. We will also be real with our Universe-no games or tricks by disengagement.
Then we can truly live and be what the Divine calls us to be-living fully. And through this living make our world a better place for all. This will be the true meaning of the Season-ushering the Christ light into our dark world; being engaged as Jesus was engaged while here on Earth.
Let’s strive to live fully engaged and be here now. For our lives are just for a minute; and they too can come to an end…
…In the wink of an eye. Peace!