At the still point of the turning world
– T.S. Eliot –
I have been out and about in the arid heart of my country in a vast area known as the Great Karoo. I have often in the past driven through there on cross country trips but this time we went to spend some time in the Karoo National Park. I was surprised, taken aback by the sense of isolation in the park, the distant horizons, the fact that it was impossible to see all of it. There was such peace in driving slowly kilometre after kilometre watching for game, noticing spoor in the riverbeds, looking to see movement and shapes, seeing the birds that I didn’t know. It was such a happy thing to be doing, to be there in that special place with loved ones and yet, even so, I found myself drifting off into “thinking”. Worrying about this and that, mulling over what is and will always be outside my control. And you know for the first time, I really understood what the point of meditation is. Don’t laugh but although I have for the longest time understood that it is a good thing, something that will help me, help me be in the world in a better way. I really hadn’t known how it would help.
And there I was suddenly seeing the power of a practice that would help me be there. Would help focus and edit and sharpen my presence. But even more importantly would soften as well because it would allow me, give me permission to simply deal with what is right now. To take every ounce of pleasure and joy as it occurs without veering away to think and try to make decisions about people and events that are utterly beyond my control.
I can see how it might be to not fritter away energy and spend emotion on these matters that are outside my remit. Or to at least notice sooner that that is what I am doing. For of course my newfound insight did not hold. But I know now. And I do come back sooner from these excursions into angry or sad fantasies about what I should or should not do and what they should or should not do.
Just this morning my husband and I were talking, no, really we were apologising to each other about little failings that hurt the other person and I thought , you know, some of these troubles that cross our paths can be used to notice where life still hasn’t quite smoothed the rough bits. And if I were here NOW instead of some of me being way over there, I would notice soon enough to stay the quick word or action.
But maybe most importantly, if I can be here now, I can properly honour and respect what is happening now, who I am with now, what I am seeing now.
You cannot be free in the future.
Presence is the key to freedom, so you can only be free now.
– Ekhart Tolle –