THE RETURN OF NOW

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[If TGOB was ever read by more than a couple of isolated souls in Finland, it got by WordPress.  Finland is definitely not one of the non-Anglophone countries whose flag I ever expected to see more than once every three or four months, if that, on the stats page. France, Italy, Greece — yes. Even (rarely) Norway, Denmark and Azerbaijan. But Finland?

Until about ten days ago. Suddenly, a flurry of interest from one or more Finns!  Thirty-three Finnish views in an hour!  For me, drifting along in the quiet backwaters of the blogosphere, thirty-three views per hour from non-followers is a lot.  And from just one country? Mind you, this was not simply Finnish attention to the current post. “My” Finns (if I may call them that) were scouring the past, in some instances going back to the blog’s early months.  

Naturally I went back, too — to see what was so interesting back there in TGOB’s babyhood.  It wasn’t “Roger Angell On Life In His Nineties,” the all-time most viewed piece I ever posted.  Or “My First Bra(s),” ever-popular in hot countries where by religious or cultural edict women tend to be all covered up.  No, it was a brief bagatelle from sixteen months ago called “Now Is All There Is.”

I cannot explain the particular appeal of this post to Finnish sensibilities. Nor do I recall that it was such a big hit anywhere when it first appeared. It just came, and then it went. But it’s still all true, or mostly true.  The part about my being unable to meditate has been somewhat addressed this year by forming a meditation group. If you form a group, the group expects you to be there to lead it.  I can therefore truthfully say that as of May 29, 2015, I am sitting down with four other people to meditate for at least thirty minutes once a week. That’s a kind of progress, isn’t it?  Whether or not I’m able to remain in the now for the full thirty minutes before the gong sounds and we all open our eyes I leave to your imagination.  I might also add we’ve temporarily abandoned breakfast oatmeal for a smoothie made in the VitaMix, consisting of baby spinach, blueberries, and Mango-Banana Skyr  — the Skyr a sort of Iceland buttermilk, now replicated in the US. But who knows how long that will last?  Bill is already complaining it seems rather “thick.”

The Finns have now departed from my stats, having apparently read everything of interest to them.  Nonetheless, I still like “Now Is All There Is,” which is probably what matters most.  So with a tip of the hat to the good people of Finland, here it is again.  Better read it now (if you’re going to read it at all) before now becomes then.]

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NOW IS ALL THERE IS

Let’s look at another way of approaching “Now is now.” It’s my first principle for getting better at getting old, or getting better at getting older than you are today. [To see them all, revisit “My Twelve Principles for Getting Better at Getting Older,” posted on January 1, 2014.]

In reframing this concept less philosophically, I’ve somewhat paraphrased the Beatles, or at least their rhythm, in hopes that swiping the beat of their song about a four-letter word starting with “L” may help you remember what’s important here. Just hear them in your head when you say “now is all there is” aloud. Listen to the slowly fading sound of their blended voices singing together, and then dying away at the end: Now is all there is, now is all there is, nowisallthereis….

Now is all there is is worth remembering — whether or not you do think love is all you need — because now is all there is. All you and I ever have is now. By the time tomorrow gets here, it’s now. Now also becomes yesterday before you can say “Jack Robinson” if you’re not keeping a close eye on it.

Minimizing the amount of time I spend not keeping a close eye on now has always been a big problem for me. I don’t mean just that I fail to admire the sunset when it appears, or that I don’t pause long enough to enjoy the sight of little birds coming to the feeders filled with black-oil sunflower seed that hang off our kitchen porch. I mean I have a really hard time staying firmly in my own life — right now, this very day, this very minute. I am almost always off in a daydream, a reminiscence, a strategy, someone else’s story, fictional or not. Sometimes, I’m even away from now when driving, which is a very big no-no. I also occasionally waste now by wondering how it will be when I’m dead and there’s no more now for me (even though I know perfectly well that when I’m dead there won’t be anything at all for me, much less a now) — because being truly dead is something I cannot conceive of! How can I possibly not be? How can there be a time when I won’t know how it will be to not be?

When you don’t stay in the now, you can get really far out of it.

And don’t tell me about meditation. I have tried it in groups, and at Kripalu with a friend, and on my own with Bill and a timer to tell us when it’s time to stop. The meditating mind — at least mine, the only mind of which I can knowledgeably speak — is, as they say, an unruly horse. I don’t do well with a verbal mantra, but closing my eyes and following my breath as it moves in and out of the nostrils feels good and is calming, so I do that. Until I discover I’m not doing that anymore but thinking about something else entirely. Which is probably after about two minutes, but I can’t tell for sure because I’m not supposed to open my eyes to look at the timer. Then I try to rein in my unruly horse and start again.

I was never on a real horse but once in my life. [You see how my mind is wandering away from meditation towards mares and stallions here?] It was a small horse, a very brief experience, and on all counts — except falling off, which I did not do because the trail guide was holding me — a failure. Maybe that partially explains my poor results with meditation. But I don’t think so. It’s just me. Also my choice of partner. Bill is usually willing to meditate, but also usually falls asleep before the timer rings.

Now perhaps you understand why I say “now is now” is not a resolution, even though it’s a principle. For me to resolve compliance would be to fail. On the other hand, to keep it in mind (as best I can, haha) does move me along in the right direction.

But now I have to go make oatmeal. It’s almost noon and we haven’t had breakfast yet. I used up breakfast time writing this for tomorrow (which is now today) and now it’s time for (yesterday’s) lunch. Oatmeal for lunch? Why not?

I hope all this about now has been helpful. If not, don’t sweat it. Now it’s history. Go appreciate now somewhere else. And try to get that Beatles beat out of your mind. It’s so yesterday.

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16 thoughts on “THE RETURN OF NOW

  1. Yes, Nina, it is curious how the stats show a spike all of a sudden from a strange country. Of course, anything from Finland is welcome. Did I tell you that my partner is Finnish and for over fifty years as well? ‘Sissu’ is a Finnish word which cannot be translated but ‘endurance’ comes close.

    I had a spike from Taiwan a few weeks ago for no reason. They looked at piece I wrote for Father’s day some years back which was published by the ABC ( and paid for)
    and on my own WP. It was a plea for males not to shy away from colonscopy. A strange item to be fascinated by but there is Taiwan for you.

    Any tag to sex is always a drawcard and much sought after and has world-wide appeal.
    “of old age and carking it” is another one of my pieces that finds a steady flow of hits.
    Anyway, this is a long rant. Your piece is so well written, such terrific word order.
    Thank you Nina.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Gerard. (But word order?) Yes, I did know Helvi was Finnish, although I wasn’t thinking of her in connection with this post, as she is in Australia with you. As for “sissu,” it seems like a word which should apply to all of us who’ve survived getting to 70!

      The thing about tagging posts “sex” is that there has to be at least some sex in the posts. And probably graphic sex, not just delicate tippy-toeing around, as I tend to do when I go there at all. Surely piling up views by cheating can’t be gratifying for long!

      Old age? So what else is new?

      Like

      • What do you mean, have I even “looked” at your latest? I read it. I sometimes come and go without leaving a sign I’ve been there. In your case, I don’t feel I can really comment on a male account of his first time as I haven’t been there (as a male) myself and may be prejudiced in my judgment of it. As for “liking” it — if I had been your English composition prof, I might have marked the paragraph addressing what happened on your floor mattress in the morning: “More detail, Gerard!” But yes, you were certainly entitled to tag that one “sex” (although I would probably have tagged it “first time” and/or “first sexual experience”). Anyway, congratulations on your 71 hits (and counting).

        However, tagging posts “sex” doesn’t seem a viable method for me to consistently break viewing records unless that’s all I were to write about. I myself have only written three which could truthfully be so labelled: “At Roscoe” (child observing implied evidence of father’s philandering in bed); “Sophie Before Feminism” (heroine’s three unsatisfactory copulations with hoped-for love object) and “First Husband: Part I” (first masturbation to climax). Only the last of the three was graphic. (And only in one paragraph). Three posts in a year and a half: I’m hardly a pornographic blogger who might benefit from your advice.

        However, the Finns are back today. So that’s something.

        Like

      • I haven’t actually used “sex” in tagging any of my latest articles. A remarkable constraint on my part and certainly haven’t even come close to any masturbation details or matrasses. Instead tagged “Paganini”, V8 Ford, Cabaret and Woy Woy. (The latest a suburb of Sydney). All a fairly sedate and becalming set of tags. My viewing records exclude the tag “sex”. Remarkable really!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. As one who has spent a lifetime trying to “rein in my unruly horse”, I so love this post. Of course, it inspired me to go and read the Roger Angell entry, which was brilliant.

    But there is something here that is so captivating…your last paragraph alone. Thank you, Finland, for noticing and precipitating this reblog. And a special thanks to you, Nina. Yours is one of my favorite voices on WordPress. 💕 Van

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m blushing, Van. Another one of my heart-felt thank yous for this one. (Don’t know how to make two hearts, so hope one will do. ❤ )

      Tell us who else you like to read on WP and I will rush right over to check it out!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I went through an active spiritual phase where I consumed just about anything having to do with spirituality, mediation, eastern philosophies. Some of it stuck. It might be time to bring mediation practice back to the front burner.

    My mediation teacher used the imagery of an unruly animal, too, by way of explaining how one approaches training the brain to settle. When trying to paper train a puppy, if she wanders off the paper, you simply notice and place her back on the newsprint. No shaming, no scolding, simply redirect her to her place. Expect that you will need to do this over and over until the pup “gets it”.

    I went to Kripalu once! Now that is a story for another time!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The puppy wandering off its paper sounds as if your teacher had been listening to Jack Kornfield, co-founder of the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center, or was actually Kornfield himself. He uses that image in almost every one of his Vipassana tapes on breathing mindfulness I’ve heard. I run Kornfield audios from my iPhone when my once-a-week group meets. No shaming, no scolding: his very words.

    Ah, Kripalu — with its saltless, silent vegan meals! A story indeed!

    Like

    • I very well may be confusing Kornfield with my teacher, or she may have quoted him.

      The more I talk about those days, the more nostalgic I become. It might be time for a refresher. But I’ll pass on the silent meals.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post. I have exactly the same problem with my thoughts. The nuns in my first boarding school called me ‘dans la lune’ (Belgian school) and I’ve never really had my feet fully on the ground in the now… but I try. I do a guided meditation through Headspace (with earphones), so I never have to worry about the time and manage an almost daily 20 minutes. I agree good for us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think we talked about Headspace in the comments to a prior post. I actually tried one. The British accent put me off. Funny how we lose all those small differences that might separate us from one another when we communicate digitally! I love the expression “dans la lune!”

      Like

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