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Another Life Lived

I’m back to the thinking about the present moment. I’m generally pretty good at staying present but sometimes I really forget about even trying.

Yesterday I went to visit one our patients who lives in an apartment building by the lake. She’s in her 90s and lives all alone and has no family. She’s quite content. She was married for many years and very in love with her husband, so much so that she let her family disown her without putting up a fight when they decided that she shouldn’t be with someone outside of her religion of origin. And now he’s gone and she’s all alone and has no children or other family to speak of.

And she’s incredibly open and present and gracious. She sits softly across from me in her favorite chair when I visit, her hands folded in her lap, her ankles crossed like a little girl, and she tells me that she tries to remain open to everything that comes into her life. She reasons that there must be a purpose for her still being here at this age. She tells me that she simply chooses to spend her time in the present moment.

Sitting across from her, not at all in my own present moment, I tried to imagine myself in 60 years, all alone in a high-rise condo somewhere. It doesn’t seem lonely. Just far away. 60 years sounds like a lifetime. And I guess it is for some people. I’ve only been alive for 30 so to think about living for another 60 sounds kind of wondrous. I already feel sometimes that I’ve been through so many incarnations of self and life. Sometimes when I look back on some of the things I’ve done and places I’ve lived it seems as though I’m thinking of someone else, not myself, another life lived entirely.

I struggle sometimes to grasp this concept of the present moment being all there is. It simply makes sense and when I really sit with it I can understand it quite well but I find it challenging to hold on to for but moments themselves at a time. I found this quote last night in A New Earth:

On the surface, the present moment is "what happens." Since what happens changes continuously, it seems that every day of your life consists of thousands of moments in which different things happen. Time is seen as the endless succession of moments, some "good," some "bad." Yet, if you look more closely, that is to say, through your own immediate experience, you find that there are not many moments at all. You discover that there is only ever this moment. Life is always now. Your entire life unfolds in this constant Now. Even past or future moments only exist when you remember or anticipate them, and you do so by thinking about them in the only moment there: this one.

Sometimes I think about this when I’m in an elevator standing next to a strange man that I don’t know, or at work filling my cup of water in the kitchen next to a woman who works downstairs in billing, or when I’m all alone on an airplane with my temple resting against the edge of the window, and I think to myself this is the only moment and sometimes that makes life feel so lonely and so quiet.

Right now, in this present moment, I can hear the leaves rustling outside the window, a breeze shifts my hair and the faint sound of a lawnmower whirs in the distance.

3 Comments

  1. I’m reading A New Earth as well. It’s taking me a while. There is a lot to chew on with that one.

    Comment by Bryce on June 12, 2008 at 10:01 am

  2. this made me *so glad* that i spent those 30 or so moments playing “go fish” with my two young nieces the other night. recalling those moments, and wishing just now that i’d been completely present during that time, has awakened me and made me determined to live in the Now.
    thanks (again), claire.

    Comment by RzDrms on June 12, 2008 at 9:25 pm

  3. Bryce — I’ve been reading it on and off for like two months. It’s definitely not a *gripping* read.
    Thanks for the sweet comment, Courtney.

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on June 13, 2008 at 12:44 pm

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