Constantly bombarded by thoughts of our past and tantalized or tortured by visions of a tomorrow that may never come, how is one to ever live in the moment? I think that one of the most challenging things we can do as aware human beings is to be present, or in other words, to live in the now. The truth is, that yesterday, no matter how horrible or wonderful, can never be changed or retrieved and since tomorrow is an uncertainty, to dwell in either place is meaningless.
I can attest from my own life, that no matter how well we plan, how pious, true, or good we are, or how things seem to be going in a certain direction, life seems to throw us a curve ball. People die unexpectedly or get sick, money disappears and the Universe that seemed to be working with us, suddenly changes course. Fear is sure to abound if we choose to look ahead, thinking about all of the possible horrors that await. By seizing the moment, we are choosing peace instead of fear and the impending result brings us to a healthier state of being.
I am reminded of my favorite children’s book called, The Three Questions, based on a story by Leo Tolstoy and written by Jon J. Muth. In this story, the young boy Nikolai is searching for the way to be his best possible self. He longs for the answers to three questions:
1) What is the best time to do things?
2) Who is the most important one?
3) What is the right thing to do?
After not getting the desired answers from his friends, young Nikolai seeks out the old, wise turtle, named Leo, for the answers to his questions. Nikolai isn’t just told the answer by the turtle, he learns the answers through the happenings that ensue with Leo. At the end of the story, Leo reveals to the young boy the answers to his three questions from the little adventure they have together that involves helping an injured panda. Nikolai surprisingly learns that the most important person isn’t necessarily the most famous, the smartest or even the most beloved. He learns that the most important person is the person we are with at any given point in time and the most important thing is to do good for that person in that very moment. Hence, the best time to do things, is in the moment. Had Nikolai not been present and allowing of his situation, the baby panda would have surely died and Nikolai would not have had the wonderful opportunity to assist another and feel that satisfaction within himself.
Whatever our situation or our pain, living in the now and implementing the answers to these three important questions into our lives, can help catapult us into a place with more joy than we ever could have imagined. When we allow ourselves to be present, not numbed by addictions or thoughts of the past or future, and we take the proper action that the moment beckons, we help ourselves in the deepest way possible. When we do this with a selfless, open heart, we ultimately bring joy to others which inadvertently ripples out into the Universe, creating a healthier, happier world. Carpe diem, my friends, and pass it on.