“Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.” ~ Ernest Hemingway
Papa Hemingway was channeling the Buddha when he wrote these words about the secret to life. We must strive to stay present, and not worry about the future or the past but to live in the moment earnestly.
I found that quote at about 4:00 A.M. with the full moon shining through my bedroom window. I was wide awake and yearning for answers. The universe, hearing my request, offered up that quote. When I looked at the Pinterest photo, I noticed it was on page 42. This struck me as a little cosmic wink and I smiled. (If you’re not already a fan of Douglas Adams’ “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe”, the number 42 is: the “Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything” calculated by a supercomputer named Deep Thought over a period of 7.5M years.)
Being present really is the secret to the ultimate question of life the universe and everything, and somehow, it also seems to be the hardest thing for the majority of us.
I’ve been thinking about this for a few days in earnest, after an amazing astrological chart reading with the incomparable John Joseph; who told me I needed feed my emotional being and be present in the physical, sensual aspects of life, because I tend to exist in the analytical and intuitive realms.
So, I’ve been experimenting with taking John and Papa Hemingway’s advice lately. This morning, for instance, in my groggy just awakened state, I noticed the beautiful moon offering up her gentle glow in the pre dawn sky. I paused for a moment to admire her beauty before going to wake my daughter.
I called her in to see it too and we stood together momentarily, taking it in. Later, on the drive to school, we listened to our favorite classical music station and I encouraged her to take a sip of coffee while she enjoyed her home made, maple breakfast scone. These tiny things we we could just as easily disconnect from, can also become the conduit to a deeper life experience.
During the short car ride, we talked about the delicious flavor of the scone and the warmth and sweetness of the coffee as a complimentary flavor. We pondered the life experience that inspired the composer who’s rollicking Scherzo punctuated the cityscape outside the bubble of the world in our car. We connected to each other and to the sights, sounds, smells and tastes around us and for a few moments in time. We were both completely present to what our senses offered us.
At drop off, I hugged, kissed her, and sent her off on her way, hoping that she would bring this sense of presence to the rest of her day and not trail off into worrying about things that haven’t come to pass. She learned at the knee of a professional worrier (me), who learned from countless generations of worriers; it’s woven into our DNA. It’s not how I want to live anymore. No matter how much my focus on future contingencies feels like control in the moment, it ultimately cuts me off from all the beauty and goodness happening around me.
So now, as I begin my day I am connecting to the present moment. I feel expanded and more powerful. I’m tuned into my senses, my intuition and the people I meet. I’m grateful as my heart opens to the beauty all around me. Huh, this is easier than I thought it would be.