I just finished a telephone conversation with a woman who is battling cancer. In addition to the panoply of medical treatments she is being given, she told me about an ancillary treatment her doctor recommended. It is a course in breathing. I asked her what it is about. She said, “It is about learning to be in the now – being present in the moment.” Then she said, “It’s like driving to California and being so focused on your destination that you never see the country.”
Oh, how we live – or rather miss living.
In Thornton Wilder’s brilliant play Our Town, Emily, a young wife, has died but is given the opportunity to return to earthly life to repeat one day when she was alive. As she watches herself and her loved ones going about their daily activities, she is dismayed by how little they understand, pay attention to one another or appreciate each other and the great gift of life.
She asks, "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? – every, every minute?"
Sadly, too many of us are so preoccupied with something other than the moment that we are missing each other – and life.
Try something with me: for a moment, stop thinking about the past and worrying about the future. Look at something, or someone, that makes you smile. Listen to and identify the distinct sounds buzzing around you. Practice being in the now. As we both exercise this discipline, we might just experience life…and simply be.