“The spiritual journey is individual, highly personal. It can’t be organized or regulated. It isn’t true that everyone should follow one path. Listen to your own truth.” – Ram Dass
It’s the subject of countless memes. Be here now. Become mindful. Live more fully in the present. At varying levels of consciousness, all of us affirm this wisdom. For fleeting moments, we may even shiver with an awareness of time passing.
But the issue with simple instructions is always the same: how do we live them out? Enroll in a yoga class? Carve out that prayer time we’ve avoided? Submit to the guidance of a spiritual director? Find the right self-help book?
I have a blunt confession: I suck at meditation. For years I’ve tried to sit still and enter the Now. Within moments, my hyperactive mind circles the world multiple times. My body, like an adrenalized horse, chomps at the reins of stillness.
Mentors have told me to press on, stay with it, break on through to the other side. I’m trying, but there’s another technique that bears more fruit. It’s why I stress the phrase “carpe diem” in my communications. Seizing is an active, assertive word. It leads me into the day with vigilance, ready to savor whatever comes my way.
I have vowed this year to seize life more fully, not in quietude or retreat from the madding crowds, but smack dab in the middle of daily events. Here are some examples from the last few days. Think of your own!
- My wife was brushing her hair. I stepped behind her and began to knead her shoulder affected by a recent car accident. She thought it was a momentary love tap. I stayed with it and she relaxed, our smiling eyes meeting in the mirror’s reflection.
- A woman at an AA meeting shared the painful history of her relationship with her father. Afterwards, she was standing alone outside, waiting for a ride. I went up and commended her vulnerability. She turned with a tear in her eye. I said, “I had to grieve the death of the father I wanted before I could love and accept the one I have.” “And?…” she asked. “Today we are closer than I ever imagined.” She nodded, then gently touched my shoulder.
- Kristoffer has a notebook filled with pictures printed off our computer. He was toting it upstairs. “Show me again what you’ve got in there,” I said. We sat on the edge of his bed, sharing father/son time.
- I bought a pink grapefruit before a noon meeting, then sat in my truck and ate it slowly, savoring the sweetness. My eyes panned the scene around me. Two grackles were squabbling while perched on a shopping cart, iridescent colors flickering in their feathers. A young mother lifted her baby out of a car, held him at eye level, and smothered his face with kisses. Clouds rolled slowly overhead. All of this in a Walmart parking lot.
In each of these ways, and many others, I seized my fleeting day. It’s my humble, effective discipline. And while I still try to sit quietly in the morning with an AA devotional, I know that deeper in my heart is the urge to get up and encounter the day.
More seizures please!