Monday, January 07, 2019

Now, now...

So I continue to listen to Philosopher Alan Watts into the new year. And I realize that I have heard everything he has said about living in the now many, many times. But I doubt I have ever really "heard" it.

I wonder if my parents ever thought about their place in the universe and the questions of why we are here. My mother bought firmly into the myth of her religion and clutched to it right up until her death. And from what I witnessed of her death, her faith didn't offer much comfort in her final moments.

I never discussed anything philosophical with my father. He did seem focused on his here and now which ping ponged between discovering lost treasures in ghost towns and cheering on the Boise State Bronco football team. Though I imagine both fixations didn't really involve the now. He set his sights on a hidden treasure that perhaps he imagined would change his life of barely scrapping by financially. I can only guess as to why he was fixated on the Boise Broncos. He'd been a janitor at a dorm at Boise State that housed many football players. So my negative self imagined they became the sons he wished he had.

I'd say it is hard to live in the now, but that just conjures up more of the duality of the concept. You are always in the now, so there isn't anything hard about it. The hard part is not thinking about the past and wondering about the future.

Alan Watts points out that only fools place their hopes for a better life in the future. He chuckles as he cites the Hindus and stating that life only gets worse.

Blogging, unfortunately at least for me, focuses a great deal on the past. But again, Watts tells us that it is only a past you are remembering in the now.  Remember my posts on the remembering self and the experiencing self? It's just another way of saying what Watts is saying. He just says it better in a droll British accent.

Watt's also reminds us that language is a very linear thing. So when you use it to describe a multi-dimensional thing like the now, it falls flat.

It is funny that we look to the future to be better and we often dwell on the past as the good old days. But I can recall very few times when I was actually experiencing the past that I thought of them as future good old days. I spent most of my youth wanting to be older because I thought it would give me more control of my life. I see my own children buying into that fantasy despite my counsel that you never really get much control over anything in your life. There is no sweet spot where everything falls in place.

Which brings us back to the now. I've been using this meditation App for almost a year that guides you through 10-minute meditations each day geared toward cultivating "mindfulness" which I believe is just another way of experiencing the now.

The big barrier I perceive of experiencing the now is calming our own thoughts. But once again the contradictions kick in. Is it truly possible not to think? And isn't thinking what causes us to consider such concepts as living in the now?

Another barrier to living in the now is everyone else and their demands that you pay attention to their now and their then. If I had a nickel for every long-term goal I was forced to develop in my work environment, I'd have found one of my father's lost treasures. And my own living in the now includes taking out a lot of garbage and picking up a lot of dog poop.

I also get caught up in trap of thinking of all of the nows getting stitched together to reach the goal of the final then. Because what happens when you run out of nows? Isn't that ultimate question? And is the only way to answer it is wait until you get there. But if we are always in the now, how can we get there.

My head hurts.

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