Thursday, December 30, 2021

Be Here Now

In the waning days of December, I find myself looking at the new calendar as a new leaf, as so many of us do, wondering what I can make of the coming 365 days, and what the world will make of my plans along the way. In this, January has a feeling of beginning, of commencement, and it's no accident that I find myself drawn to graduation speeches as I walk the weird week between Christmas Day and New Year's Eve.

"Be here now" is the oft-cited directive of philosophers of all stripes: Morpheus, Yoda, Ghandi, Jimi Hendrix.


But, as my writing student put it in her work yesterday, Mindfulness is hard. Or as another philosopher mentioned in one of my favorite commencement speeches:
"It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive in the adult world day in and day out. Which means yet another grand cliché turns out to be true: your education really is the job of a lifetime. And it commences: now. I wish you way more than luck."
----This is Water, David Foster Wallace 
I'm reminded of another quote, a bit in a movie that I love, Playing By Heart. Jolie's character is talking about love, and she says that she has this friend, a musician, who says that "talking about love is like dancing about architecture," a spin on a quote from Frank Zappa or possibly from Declan Patrick Aloysius MacManus (Elvis Costello to you and me) despite his often denying it, or maybe from Martin Mull (philosophers, all). 

But Jolie's character (Joan in the film) goes just a step further, and this is what makes it all more than merely witty for me. She says "Talking about love might be like dancing about architecture, but that's not going to stop me from trying." 
Be here now. 
Mindfulness is hard. 
But that's not going to stop me from trying.