My friend is a few years older than me. A week or so ago he experienced an epiphany of sorts and shared it with me. “I am 78 years old, and my future is NOW; this is it. It’s here. It is utterly ridiculous to worry about anything beyond the next few days or weeks. It doesn’t take a genius to know this, and yes, I have known this for a long time, but have never really allowed the truth of it to sink into my thick head. Writing in my journal earlier this morning it hit me like a hard slap on my head. TODAY should be the most important day in my life, not tomorrow, or the next day, or whenever. The present is all that I can count on, and even that is fleeting.”
The past is gone; it is no more. The present is here and now for the moment. The future is not yet and there is no guarantee that we will experience it. We must live in the present moment for it is all any of us really have, at any age, at any time. To live in the present moment is not to assume that this moment is our last—that tomorrow will not come. It is rather to simply be present to the moments we are living now.
It is not what happens to us in any given moment that gives content to our lives, but whether or not we let its experience sink into us. Reflection is a wonderful gift, It is essential if we wish to be present to our moments. With this gift of reflection we can look into each moment of our days, pondering the feelings we experience in all that we do and say. Being present to our moments is to reflect on the joys we feel, the sadness that sometimes overwhelms us, the tears that flow or the smile that surfaces without effort, or the song on our lips that comes without thinking. The “moment” has little content without this reflecting or pondering of its significance and making it count, rather than always rushing through those moments without attention, hurrying toward what we think will be a more “important” tomorrow.
There is a legend of St. Francis of Assisi hoeing in his garden one day when someone came along and asked him to speculate on what he would do if he knew he was going to die that day. “I would hoe my garden,” he replied.
Being present to the moment means to live it fully, to reflect on its meaning, to enter into its mystery, and to keep on with whatever your particular hoeing might be without the headlong rush toward something more important tomorrow.