This is always difficult.
It’s utterly critical to the success of a happy moment, but it’s still so difficult. So many things conspire to take us out of the moment and into drama or worry or fear or depression or anger or whatever.
Anywhere but here.
In this moment.
And this moment, as the meditation app I use sometimes likes to say.
It’s an important step, this moment in time. It is the only moment you and I will ever know. Right here. Right now.
And it’s impossible not to worry and miss it. The psychic worry on the best of days can take us out of the moment, let alone these days, where fearmongering and the manufactured left/right divide seems to come at us from every corner.
But what do you do? You can’t save the world shut off from it, like some kind of modern Thoreau or vapid Instagram addict.
Life is too short to be stupid or distracted.
And can ignorance achieve presence anyway? Are you really present if you’re thinking about how much you love The Weeknd or Justin Bieber or wondering if you can achieve Kim Kardashian’s booty without implants? (Hint: totally doable. It’s called cheeseburgers and large fries. I should know.)
The problem is that the external problems of our world so often invade our internal space and keep us from that presence we so desperately need to achieve bliss or artistic inspiration or just a little focus. To ignore it helps no one, and only begets yet another New Ager with no sense of perspective. (And before you jump on me, know that I’m far more left than right, if the dichotomy is the measure, though hint: in reality, it’s not.)
It’s a difficult balance, but one I think we need.
We need our presence to focus, and to truly experience self-awareness and peace. We also need to be aware of the world around us, and make decisions and form opinions based on more than mere thoughts or memes or tradition. Retreat into the “presence” doesn’t do that if that’s what it is: retreat.
Presence cannot be retreat. It must rather be immersion, and maybe that’s how we deal with the conundrum.
Immersion into all of it: the self, for a clear, open centre, and the world, for the information that will guide us into becoming beings who are not only individually centred, but capable of acting on a wider, more communal scale, whether it’s helping a friend, curing cancer or stopping fascists with fancy legal kung-fu.
True presence allows for it all; it just excludes the psychic flotsam and jetsam.
Or at least, it lets it float on by with a passive eye, engaging with but a nod of the head, and nothing more.