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Say Hello to Now
By Platt Holden
You know me well because I'm with you constantly, a companion who never leaves your side.
I'm the ever present present, the sensation you call "now," the "be" in "to be or not to be."
You know me intimately because I was with you when you were born and will be with you when you die. I am the stage on which you play out your life.
I'm where the past and the future come together, the dividing line between history and possibility, the point where what happens, happens and what changes, changes.
I seem to pass and return in the blink of an eye, yet in truth I stay while all else passes. The time on either side of me, what you call the past and the future, are simply memory and imagination. They are fleeting. I stay. Past and future only occur in me, the present moment.
What you call time is your mind observing me change. Paradoxically, I never change at all: all you have to do is look up from this page and there I am, the same as I was yesterday, still within you and all about you, still being what I am--existence itself.
Poet Richard Jefferies said it well: "It is eternity now. I am in the midst of it. It is about me in the sunshine; I am in it, as the butterfly in the light-laden air. Nothing has to come; it is now."
Indoors or outdoors, awake or asleep, at work or at play, I surround you, like the ocean surrounds a fish. There's no escape. I am your ocean. You are like the fish who, when asked how he liked the ocean, replied, "What ocean?"
Yet surprisingly, no one has ever been able to prove that I exist. You know me, as you do so many other things, by your intuition alone. You recognize me by sensing my presence, just as you sense love, quality, truth and beauty.
I cannot be proven because I cannot be (as scientific verification demands) split off from the rest of the world, pinned down and measured. No one can get outside of me to observe me for I am both observer and observed, subject and object, inside and outside, past and future, all rolled into a single, perennial moment.
Your physicists have admitted as much. The entire edifice of science, built on faith in a subject-object, cause-effect, mechanistic-material world has crumbled. You have discovered that an electron, a tiny particle of energy, can be in two places at once and isn't around at all until someone goes looking for it.
Your mind will take you only so far in defining reality before it starts chasing itself in circles. Why? Because it's impossible for a sense (which I am) to sense itself (which I also am), just as a foot cannot step on itself nor a tongue taste itself.
Once in a while I'll give you a glimpse or hint of something beyond your present understanding--an unbelievable coincidence, a "miracle" cure, a sudden revelation or simply a feeling of awe at the wonders of man and nature. Then you begin to grasp my true essence.
Artists know me better than most. A painting or symphony has no meaning beyond its own presence. Art is man's effort to present me in a form that allows you to see and feel my true nature more fully.
What blocks you from knowing me more intimately or even recognizing my eternal presence is your chattering mind, always concerned with practical matters. Most of the time you're preoccupied with getting a job done or planning for tomorrow. To you, that's the real world.
I know all about your world because I made it. I laid down the physical, biological, social and intellectual laws that created it. And, being a very lawful character myself, I rigidly obey my own laws. I cannot lie, cheat, steal or fake it. Your moral values come straight from the example I set.
But I also have an unlawful aspect that always strives to make myself more perfect. You call it creativity and evolution; I call it my effort to more fully realize myself.
I'm making progress. I created human consciousness so I could see myself at work and perhaps speed up the process towards perfection. But with consciousness came self-consciousness, the observer observing itself as an object, a split that makes it almost impossible for you to grasp my essence. Your mind is cut in half: a part that knows and a part that knows it knows.
Most of your attention focuses on the part that knows, the thinking part, the part that names your sensations and weaves them into patterns of meaning. But the part that knows it knows, the intuitive part, is nearer to what I'm all about.
Focusing your attention on and listening to that part, though, is considered useless, a waste of time. That's why you rarely try. You can't count on it. You can't make a living at it.
Yet doing useless things, like playing golf or joking around with friends, puts the zest into life.
That's why you should visit art shows, go to the theater, attend concerts, participate in sports, perhaps learn how to meditate. At the least, stop from time to time to focus on all that's around you. Say, "Hello Now."
By making the effort to get in touch with me more often, you'll be giving me more space in your life to exercise my dynamic nature. Remember, I'm working to make things better and like you, I work best when I'm free of mental inhibitions.
And if you really want to lift your cares and burdens, look to me for inspiration and guidance, then let go. Get up in the bleachers and be a spectator to what happens instead of always trying to control what happens yourself. By leaving problems alone, you'll be surprised how I can solve them. Believe as Hamlet did: "There's a divinity that shapes our ends/Rough-hew them how we will."
Trust me. After all, I am you.