1 EAGLETON NOTES: Now

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Monday, 18 November 2019

Now

On 30 September YP wrote a post entitled 'Now'. I thought about it then and I've been thinking about it on and off since then. YP posed the question "Why should we live with one foot in yesterday and the other foot in tomorrow?" He ended up saying "Grasp 'Now' while it is happening because there will never be another day quite like this one." 

Then I started thinking about the millions for whom today is the same as yesterday was and the same as tomorrow will be. For whatever reason (for example loneliness, health or poverty) there are many for whom there has always been a past but for whom the future may offer no hope of anything different and for whom that permanent 'Now' is far from a pleasant one. 

I have posted (several times) on the poem by W H Davies entitled Leisure which starts "What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare?"

Basically I think that is what is at the nub of what YP was saying.

All of us have a past which, to some extent and in some way, conditions us. We cannot ignore that past. 

Most of us have a future. How long it will be is usually unknown although the older we are then as a general rule the shorter our life expectation. How long we may hope and expect it to be will vary enormously.

When we are 16 to 18 then the last thing on our mind is likely to be our old age. However the future in terms of a career and all that flows from that is likely to be a consideration.  Some of the time. At that age, however, a lot of leisure time is spent in The Now but the rest of the time (school, university etc) is spent investing in the future.

At 75 we have almost reached old age. Our working life is like to be behind us. Our health will likely be less robust than it has been and we will probably have less energy and strength than at our peak. We will have far more of a past life and memories so we will live in the past to some extent. I think that is inevitable. In reality we are likely to be thinking about our future as well. Will we be able to drive for much longer? Is our home suitable for our impending old age? Should I plan for the possibility of dementia or infirmity.

I, like YP, am very fortunate to have an adequate income, all my faculties, lots of friends, family on the Island and superb health care which keeps my body serving me well.

However, whist I am out on this wonderful, cold and sunny morning for my walk in the woods I will be enjoying The Now whilst definitely thinking of the fact that in a short while I will be meeting an old friend for coffee in the warmth.

And that is, I would like to think, an allegory for life in general.

Or am I guilty of complacency as considered in YP's subsequent post bearing that title.

34 comments:

  1. I agree, enjoy the Now. One way I do that is to count my blessings, as you have done in this post.

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    1. Terra, I agree that being thankful for one's good fortune is a great way of living.

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  2. I couldn't have put it better. If not now, when?

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  3. A very thoughtful post, Graham. I know the past shapes who we are, and we always must keep an eye on planning for the future, but living in The Now, appreciating things today, is really all the life we have. Carpe diem, you know :)

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    1. Margaret, that's a pretty well perfect synopsis of that which I wrote. Perhaps I should be less verbose! As for Carpe diem, I've posted about it several times over the years. I suppose that it is the crux of living in The Now although I have to say, on reflection, that there are many, many moments I've lived through that I'd rather not have seized.

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  4. I have never used or heard the expression "living in the Now" or whatever but I certainly have always lived life to the full without second thoughts or regrets. I think of the past of course but I don't dwell on what might have been or things like that. I was brought up to be positive about whatever life throws at me and I hope I have in most ways achieved that.

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    1. Rachel, I think your philosophy of living without regrets, in particular, is pretty much as good as we can get when living in the present. I've always been an advocate of optimism and positivity as a way to having a satisfying life.

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  5. While reading this post I had a sense of recently having read something on the same topic but from a different point of view... But where? and what? ... It took me a few moments, but then it came back to me. It was an interview I read in Swedish (via FB, where I saved the link), with a Swedish physicist, professor and author, Bodil J├Ânsson (female, in case the name does not reveal that to English readers). She has written books about our concept of Time. The headline of the article is: "Living in the Now is the worst thing I can imagine." The title of her most recent book (which I have not yet read) is "Plenty of Time".

    Her basic idea in the new book (as summarized in this article) is that we ought to look upon time as coming towards us rather than running away from us. (She is 77 years old btw.) Always trying to make the most of "Now" can actually be stressful, because really - "now" really flies by very quickly, and is gone as soon as it came... On the other hand, she also says she does find it comforting to deal with each moment as it comes (referring to the text of a well-known and often quoted old Swedish hymn - even though she says she's not really religious herself). In her own life, she avoids booking too much into her calendar (as do I...) as she finds that stressful. In a previous book she wrote a lot about our need for... hm, she invented a word I don't know how best to translate, but it's to do with our brains needing time for "readjustment" between different activities rather than jumping straight from one thing to another. So, I bet she'd 100% agree with the idea of "time to stand and stare" :)

    Personally I also agree with what you say about it being natural to spend more time to think about both the past and the future as we grow older. (What's the use of the past if we can't take time to remember it?)

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    1. Thank you, Monica, for that very interesting and educational comment. I think the point about stress when having too many things 'booked into one's diary' is particularly relevant. It's something I've lived with all my working life and my life since. As I've got older I do sometimes find that I need more time to myself.

      "What's the use of the past if we can't take time to remember it?" I think that's one of the most important points in this whole subject. Why otherwise would we take photographs, for example.

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  6. I hit 70 with an immense amount of joy. I spend more time embracing that than I do on worrying about my shortened life span. I would like to organize my stuff in my lifetime though.

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    1. Maywyn, I'd love to get my life organised too. It's one of the biggest things on my To Do list.

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  7. I don't like to have too much booked in my calendar these days, because I rather enjoy what I am doing most of the time. Which has to be good. I am rather inclined to say that now is all we have, so we might as well not bother to think about it! :)

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    1. Jenny, I, too, am fortunate enough to enjoy what I'm doing most of the time but if I don't put a bowls match (2) or a visit with my grandson or Thursday night's concert or the AGM of our local arts centre or taking my son to the plane at crack of dawn from his house 15 miles away or the opening of the annual exhibition of local artists (all on this week) I'd be lucky to remember any of them. Which reminds me I'm just off to fit a new cooker hood for a friend. At least I usually remember my morning walk in the woods and my coffee at The Woodlands without needing to diarise them.

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  8. You made me go back to YP's post. I thought I'd missed it. At 80 I find aging...life to be going by faster and faster. I'll be happy to take what I'm given.

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    1. Red, I could not agree more about life speeding up. Like you I'm just thankful I have the faculties to do what comes along.

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  9. I'm not sure that I agree about being aggressive in living in the now. It can become a bit stressful if for example if you are having a restful day at home pottering around doing nothing in particular but enjoying the me time and suddenly you feel I really should be doing something more exciting and living in the now. I enjoy going out and visiting places and people but I also enjoy quiet me time doing very little except for feeling guilty. I have also read and know that is to our advantage to revisit the past and remember the good times. It is good for our memory.I enjoy going through old photos and remembering what a good life I've had and I can take that with me into the now and feel happy. Especially today when I'm not feeling well, I find it therapeutic to go back over the past.

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    1. Like you, Diane, I enjoy going out, visiting places and people, but I also enjoy quiet me time - and that never makes me guilty! Who says the "Now" has to be something exciting? One can enjoy the Now even if it is just sitting quietly on a sunny bench in the park (for instance).
      To me, the most important requirement to my own life is balance - balance between the quiet, peaceful and the exciting, balance between work and play, between having company and being on my own, between resting and running (in more sense than one).

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    2. Diane, my immediate thought when I read your comment has been addressed by Meike: I don't think that 'Now' has to be filled with excitement either. The other day when I was doing all the ironing I was listening to music that I love. That was appreciating the Now without either boredom or excitement - just living.

      Meike, os so often happens I could not agree with you more. I especially agree with the requirement for balance.

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  10. We should certainly all 'live for the day', but maybe we should make provision for the future too.

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    1. Absolutely, Cro. If I didn't make provision for the future then my mind wouldn't be free to enjoy the present.

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  11. The here and now...the there and then...the whenever, whatever...all part of life.

    Tomorrow will still come whether one is here or not.

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  12. I just try to learn something new everyday. Mostly takes me a month and not a day as I am special needs or a bit thick in the old parlance. I consider learning as a way passing the time till my death. I'm a passable welder these days and can drive modern tractors and old tele-loaders sans brakes. Variety is what I strive for. Programming stuff is great as long as the robot one is programming knows when one has cuckoo'd. I spelt cuckooed like this and this because spell checker wanted me to write cuckold and though I suspect I may have been I know it hasn't been one sided.

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    1. Adrian, you are without a doubt the cleverest self-called numbskull I've ever come across. If I could even understand the words you use when you go off into your computer world I'd be happy. Anyway thanks for the as-always entertaining comment and the quite serious comment about learning something new every day.

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  13. I'm with you on your thoughts. I know we are all different and handle things differently. I prefer and have learned not to hold onto grudges and bad thoughts, it's just too much negative energy and too stressful, I think as I get older the less drama I want to have to deal with.

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    1. Amy, I could not agree with you more about grudges and negativity. They really get in the way of being able to enjoy life. I'm just off to look after my nearly 2-year old grandchild this morning: that's quite enough drama in my life.

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  14. Ahh, Graham, that is all a bit deep for me on a glorious day such as this. I'll leave such serious thoughts for days when I have nothing better to do. I guess that is my simple way of keeping balance in my life.

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    1. Pauline, my trouble is that when people like YP start making me think I find it hard to stop. Fortunately Me and Thinking rarely meet these days.

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  15. I found this blogpost to be wise and well-considered. It pleases me that my "Now" post ignited this level of reflection. I suppose that what I was trying to say in my initial post is that though we will never escape thoughts about our pasts and futures, we should not neglect the here and now. It matters.

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    1. Thank you YP. Yes. After all the here and now is yet another thing we will be hopefully remembering as the past in days to come. The better the Now then the better will be our memories. Hopefully, too, the more positive about the Now the better out future will be as well.

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    2. I note that a car crashed into a house on Barvas Corner, Lewis last night. I never realised that you were a boy racer Graham. Perhaps you were just living in "now" as you put your foot down. Fortunately, nobody was killed.

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    3. It did indeed, YP. Given the severity of the crash and the fact that both the vehicle and the house were set on fire I'm ver surprised that no one was killed. The way the car ended up was most extraordinary.

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