Recently I’ve started to feel bombarded with messages to “Be Fully Present In The Moment”, focus on “The Here and Now” and abandon my, apparently unhealthy, habit of living mostly inside my head and “Join the Real World”.
Some of this comes from the self-help merchants who are trying to feed the apparently insatiable demand to provide the one simple message that will enable people to achieve happiness. Some comes from the attempts of Western writers to re-package Buddha to fill a perceived gap in the spiritual market as Christianity wanes in Europe. Some of it just seems to be a marketing ploy to get me to buy “experiences”.
The main effect on me is to make me grind my teeth in annoyance and mutter “If that’s what Buddha REALLY meant, he was an idiot.”
I like living in my head. If I wanted to be “Fully Present In The Moment” all the time, then I wouldn’t be reading blogs, never mind writing one.
That’s why the picture of Buddha with headphones appealed to me: I like to believe that Buddha’s advice to “Live in the present moment wisely and earnestly” embraces the possibility of filling that moment with music and words and wild flights of fancy. I think Buddha doesn’t even need the headphones to do this. That’s why he’s always smiling.
For much of my life, the pull of my imagination has been stronger than my attraction to the Real World. I have seldom been propelled by urgent enthusiasms to do things and be places RIGHT NOW.
Even as a child, I treated the “Here and Now” as optional. I could be in the “Here and Now” or I could be visiting Narnia or watching Spock raise an eyebrow at Captain Kirk’s lack of ability to see simple logical consequences, or spinning stories to my cousins about the things that lived in the walls of the house we shared and would, if you brushed against a wall in the dark of the night, pull you in the vast, empty, lightless vacuum of the “between” spaces, from which you could never return.
Now that I’m in my Fifties I recognize that, unlike books and films that wait to blossom in my imagination, the Here and Now is always moving forward, cannot be retrieved and will eventually run out.
I’m making a conscious effort to visit it more often and to take full advantage of it while I’m there. I’m happy to live in my head but I don’t want to find myself locked away in it.
What makes my personal Buddha smile is finding the focus to choose, each day, to get the right mix of time spent at home in my head and time spent in the fresh air of the Here and Now.