August 30, 2017KR BlogBlogWriting

On Living in the Moment

I’m sick of everybody telling me to live in the moment, but I get it. Why do we insist upon these ideals, extremes that don’t exist, a whole society built upon mythical excess, homes at the end of the world, equators that can be obsessed over, angles that never were?

As a result of supposedly falling short of perfection, everyone I know is going through some form of life crisis, be it quarter or mid. I’m guilty of all of it, too, of course. I find it hard to balance my great big dream of the future with living right here now. I become philosophically promiscuous, stalking the next mental high. The only way out is to immerse myself in life’s particulars.

Some lines from Ben Stiller’s Reality Bites capture my general mental state and my consequent need to embrace the little things. The words of one of the characters, Troy Dyer, have also always stuck with me: “There’s no point to any of this. It’s all just a random lottery of meaningless tragedy and a series of near escapes. So I take pleasure in the details. You know a Quarter-Pounder with Cheese, those are good, the sky about ten minutes before it starts to rain, the moment where your laughter become a cackle, and I sit back and I smoke my Camel Straights, and I ride my own melt.” There may be a point to all of it, but it’s just not the one I thought I was looking for. It seems to me the point is the Quarter-Pounder, the sky, cackles, Camel Straights, and my own melt.

Of Buddhism, my dad says there are always blue skies in your mind, and meditation just dissolves the clouds. But I’ve never fully meditated, I don’t think. In The Parent’s Tao Te Ching, William Martin puts so well what we want to give our kids: “Help them…find the wonder / and the marvel of an ordinary life. / Show them the joy of tasting / tomatoes, apples and pears.” Too bad I’m often terrible at taking all this good advice. Sometimes I have stunning spiritual revelations, but I usually forget them by mealtime.

But right now is pretty great. I’m sitting at my special little writing desk while the raindrops fall in slow motion—fat, lazy, content, with nothing to prove. I may claim I don’t believe in the existence of the flighty ideal; but the last line of Joyce’s “The Dead”—“His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead”—still sends the kind of shivers that can only come from the sublime. So yeah, I have a bad habit of spending my time looking for the thing that makes that day holy somehow, but the nice thing is I often find it.

Perhaps tomorrow the baby will throw up on the rug again, and I’ll have writer’s block, but today is crystalline, shot full of life. If I saw one thing as I was dying it might be the follow-the-leader style dance that my husband and son are doing together right now, which involves a lot of rocking and rolling on the floor, while the rain continues to fall outside, “falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.”