Saturday 4 January 2014

Living in the present

Our bodies and minds are restless,
forever searching for something better to do.
Our days, too, can be encumbered with a thousand irritations, 
worries, regrets for what has happened, 
and fears for what may occur.
Filled with trivial duties, unexpected memories
and thoughts about what we have to do,
they become a battleground strewn with
the debris of our thoughts and intuitions.

To escape this exhaustion, the thing to do is
to sit, wait and be still.
Fidelity to the moment is a deliberate,
focussed attention on the here and now -
wherever and whatever it is.
Forget the future (you cannot live there);
ignore the past (it is over);
concentrate on the only reality,
the one in whose presence you are now privileged to exist.
What is to be known is here.
All that exists is now,
in all its mysterious presence.

Timeless Simplicity  by John Lane.

Also mentioned in the book,
and I was reminded of this by a comment that 
being in the present while cleaning the bath 
would be hard to cope with,
was Stanley Spencer's experience of sublime happiness while
carrying out menial tasks during the war.
Now the exhibition
Stanley Spencer: Heaven in a Hell of War,
sixteen large scale canvas panels
from the Sandham Memorial Chapel
has come to London's Somerset House.


  1. Let me know when you succeed and send tips on a postcard.

    (I am not sure I can cope with being in the present when I am cleaning the bath etc)

  2. Oh he has plenty to say about snatching 'eternal moments' - living simultaneously in the embrace of the here-and-now and the eternal. I think the kitchen was mentioned along with public lavatories, park-seats and hotel foyers. Stanley Spencer was overwhelmed with immense undefinable joy while scrubbing a bathroom floor. Could be a long wait for the postcard but I have one ready stamped.

  3. I have to say that it makes perfect sense but not so easy to carry out - one can but try.

  4. Like a Quaker Meeting , perhaps ?
    But I couldn't do it with music playing , or while there were people to watch . On a desrted river bank , I think .

  5. Wise and lovely. Thank you, Lucille. xo

  6. "Be Here Now" - oft-repeated in this house. The Gardener prefers "Right here, right now" but it's all pretty much the same. Not easy, but such wise advice.