The perfection of the moment
Perhaps my favourite quote just now is from a book by the Italian poet, Cesare Pavese, “We do not remember days, we remember moments.” If you look back on your life you’ll see the truth of this. Our memories play out as a series of disconnected scenes or snapshots. Some are more accurate than others; some are clear and vivid while others are hazy, indistinct, almost dreamlike. I have no idea what I had for breakfast on Thursday 17th October 1974, or indeed much about anything else that happened on that day. But I do remember standing by the river with my friend Ann, laughing like fools as we watched the leaves cascading onto our heads from the trees above us. I am eternally grateful for that moment and for many others. Life really is about the moments. When we look back at the times that really mattered in our lives, we will remember those times when we were truly present in the moment, not those times when we were worrying about the mortgage or the repair bill or the report we need to write by Thursday.
The real miracle of mindfulness is in finding joy in every moment. Not happiness, joy, which is resting in the perfection of the moment. Take this scenario; you are in the checkout queue, wanting to get out of there and home for tea before the rush hour. But the young woman just in front of you insists on engaging the checkout boy in a lengthy, flirtatious conversation. Irritation wells up, you feel like exchanging some sharp words with them, resentful thoughts boil through your mind. But then you pause, feeling the breath pass all the way into the belly, feeling the pressure of the feet on the ground, noticing the story line. Now you are able to see the situation as it really is. Resting in the moment you can make a choice and choose a more creative response. Can we cultivate our awareness of moments so that we experience more of them? I think so. Even in the middle of a football crowd or an argument when tensions are running high and the volume is even higher, we can still come back to the perfection of the moment; we can still remember where we are.
So this week’s offering is not so much a tip as a reminder; a reminder to bring all that we have learned to all the moments of our lives. The more we practice the more moments are made available to us. Please don’t make the mistake of believing that those times when we are in autopilot or in the trance of stress mean that we have fallen short in some way. Not at all. Each time we remember to be present represents a triumph. So don’t get too concerned about having mindful days, just have mindful moments.