“Ask yourself at every moment, ‘Is this necessary?'” – Marcus Aurelius
There are times when I read a page in a book and realize as I reach the end that my mind didn’t make the journey with my eyes. My mind will race along with thoughts of urgency of my own design, distractions of this, that and the other thing. Am I not in a place to be reading these words at this time? Sometimes closing the book and addressing the pressing thoughts is the answer, but other times the answer is to take a deep breath, push aside the noise and refocus the mind. In an inner dialogue version of I’ll turn this car around right now! I tell myself I’m here for this page, and you might as well stick with this, mind of mine.
I understand why my mind is racing. I have upcoming trips to New York, London and Scotland the next three weeks. Logistics, meeting preparation, and ensuring what I’ll leave behind doesn’t fall apart in my absence consumes me as I read about, of all things, stillness. They say when the student is ready the teacher will appear… in this case the teacher is patiently standing over my desk while the other students giggle and I jolt awake from a daydream.
We live in a noisy, demanding world, and it feels like your brain is like the close-up shot of the crowd in a tennis match, following the ball this way, then that way, then “Ooohh!” followed by “Woah!” and so on. The next three weeks are pulsing in my thoughts, but I know I’m getting ahead of myself. There was a moment yesterday when I contemplated packing my bag for anticipated Isle of Skye November weather when I caught myself, thinking I’m going to need that bag for a business trip to Rochester, New York beginning tomorrow. Plan for the future, but please, focus on now!
Which brings me back to… now. I’ve set aside reading Stillness Is The Key to write this blog post. The list of things to do between now and the end of November is expanding rapidly, if only in my mind. I follow the Getting Things Done approach and write it down to get it out of my head, and something else pops up and I write that down in turn. Such is the power of anticipation, but that teacher is standing over my desk again, and I look up slowly from my scattered mindscape to hear her remind me “There’s only now“. Be in the moment. Now: This Sunday in New Hampshire, surrounded by golden leaves lit by morning sun; leaves that will be piled on the ground when you return in three weeks. Make the most of this moment, won’t you? Tomorrow will be there waiting if you should get there.