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  • Writer's pictureDoug Weiss

In the Moment

I am not among those who believe the so-called good old days were either good or worthy of repetition. About the only positive thing I can say about the past is that it was in some ways less complex, less distracting. It is hard to escape the complexity of daily life today and technology has provided us with new and addictive forms of distraction that increasingly prevent us from being in the moment.

At work, at play or even at rest our attention is divided. We multi-task in the office, watch TV at the gym, check our phones at the restaurant, text, tweet, email, and share just about everything with others like us who are doing the same about sixteen hours a day on average. There is little evidence though that we are accomplishing more or that we find ourselves the better for this incessant preoccupation. Rather we are stressed, fatigued and irritable, made brusque by the constant plucking at our skirts. Our only relief, should we choose it, is an enforced quiet—meditation, yoga or some other activity designed to put distance between ourselves and the getting and spending world.

Even those sanctuaries of repose, churches and temples have succumbed to the need to entertain, with slick sideshows featuring contemporary music and theatrical staging designed to appeal to a generation for whom reverent silence or traditional liturgy are anathema. Thankfully my own church has not bowed to sensationalism to deliver its message. But my personal chapel when I want to be alone with my thoughts, closer to the universe and my maker, has always been nature. The woods particularly but a sandy beach, a mountaintop or open field will do. Peace wraps around me like a stole, but I wear it lightly. In its embrace thoughts do not intrude but ally themselves with whatever direction I might take. For me that is being in the moment—at one with the sights and sounds, the textures and the heartbeat of the world.

It is difficult to tear myself away from those interludes because they nurture my soul and my sanity. The distance afforded me shines a harsh light on the busyness of my daily existence and makes me yearn to stay just a little bit longer distant from the cares of the day. What sets these moments apart from the daily stuff of living is its intentionality. And this is the heart of the matter. Too often we are mere spectators in our lives pulled along by the current, so terribly busy that we have no time to reflect on where we are headed or why. It is far too easy to succumb to this distraction.

Life should be lived, experienced in all its guises not shrouded in repetitive dissonance. When we allow ourselves to be preoccupied with the business of daily life it is almost as if we wish to avoid the moment, fearful of what it might reveal. We fill the void with meaningless industry or inattention. It takes courage to accept what the world presents us, especially when it is something we would rather not dwell upon. That is the lesson I too frequently must re-learn. I cannot prevent or control what may come, be it tragedy or outrage, but I can decide how it will affect me. To be in the moment is to gain mastery over it—to make conscious our reactions and the meaning they hold. To act, not react, that is the very definition of intentionality.

This quote from Mary Ann Radmacher sums it up beautifully: “Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen Hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose without regret. Appreciate your friends. Continue to learn. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.” To which I can only add that when we live in the moment we live with purpose.

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