On the Challenge of Staying

(BUDDHIST Advice) Riiight. Gotcha. (Metallic print by Leslie Sabella.)

(BUDDHIST Advice) Riiight. Gotcha. (Metallic print by Leslie Sabella.)

The month has changed, and with it, the weather.

It’s subtle, but the air isn’t as chilly as it used to be. The only reason I’ve noticed is because my left big toe has stopped cramping during my morning swims (most of January, I was limping by the time I left the pool).

And with a change in external weather comes a change in internal weather. These last few days, one of my inner voices (the mildly despotic one) has stopped counseling me to “let go” and has begun exhorting me to “stay in the present” instead. I don’t think it means I’ve mastered the art of surrendering—despite the fact that it’s all the universe had me do for the last two years—only that the priorities have shifted.

(Honestly, all these practices boil down to the same thing. But the same thing comes in different flavors. Some flavors are less palatable than others. This is how you know you’ve found the right flavor.)

The universe—with whom my inner despot is in cahoots—could not have found an even more Herculean labor with which to task me. Learning to let go was hard; staying in the present occurs to me as almost impossible. Why? Because I like to think. And thinking is always at least one remove from living.

(My philosopher and writer friends will be inclined to disagree. The philosopher and writer in me are inclined to disagree. But disagreement belongs to the province of thinking, on which point the philosophers and writers will have to agree.)

I’m not denigrating thinking—especially when far too little of it actually goes on in the world. But there are people in whom thinking becomes a vice because it occurs in excess. The world would be a far better place if some people began thinking a little bit more and some people began thinking a little bit less.

So this is me doing my bit to make the world a better place: staying in the present and not meandering away with my thoughts.

It’s going to be a tough practice.



2 thoughts on “On the Challenge of Staying

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