After my lovely birthday of yesterday, today I drove my beautiful wife to her job in Springfield. We are to get pummeled by the white stuff this weekend, so I thought it best that I accompany her to work and wait while she toiled. She works in Reproductive Endocrinology, a rather fascinating discipline.
I sat in a café within the medical complex. A tiny TV blared dire warnings about the imminent storm. I found the remote and muted the offending appliance.
Peace of mind.
Withdrawing books, magazines, and legal pads from my satchel, I set about to write and read and write some more. I regretted not bringing my laptop, but sometimes it’s good to write in longhand. Ideas seem to flow differently when putting pen to paper.
With the TV silent, and no one else present, I reveled being present. I observed myself being in the moment. Sometimes that is hard to come by. But I try every day to attain a semblance of it. Even if it visits for only a few minutes a day, it is always welcome. Perhaps you have managed to access the present, and have been doing that for years. Good for you! It’s always a pleasure to be enveloped in quietude.
To curtail a long story, I came to his concept years ago when I lived in Boston. I was going through a ghastly depression and spent many spare hours shuffling through the Brookline Booksmith, a wonderfully comfortable store and a perfect place to lose yourself amongst the aisles.
I found myself in front of the Self-Help section, and immediately thought it was a rack for losers. ‘Hell, I don’t need these books,’ I grumbled to myself.
But I picked one out anyway, just to see what kind of books pathetic souls perused. The book was called, ‘Thoughts Without A Thinker’, by Mark Epstein. I thumbed through it, read a few passages, and put it back on the shelf.
I pulled it out again.
I read some more, and it started to make sense. I bought it.
‘Going To Pieces Without Falling Apart” by Epstein again was next, along with Stephen Batchelor’s fine tome, ‘Buddhism Without Beliefs’. All three allowed me to eliminate the self-flagellation that had plagued me every day.
I lost my depression.
The key tenet to Buddhism is being aware, of being in the moment. And it works. It is a very difficult concept to maintain, but it is attainable. And once accessed, an incredible calm can be experienced.
So there I was, sitting in the café, watching the first few flakes fall from the low bank of gray clouds, and I was present. I was there. With my books, my pad and pen, a lukewarm coffee, and my mind working on angles to many stories. I was present.
The internal Observer was observed, and it allowed me to concentrate on my words. Every day is a challenge to find that peace of mind. But once attained, it can give you a moment of bliss. Your own observer is waiting for you. Try it. Try to be present.
After all, what have you got to lose?