A preposterously silly film, “Wayne’s World” created years ago by comedians Mike Meyers and Dana Carvey (SNL alums and more) still has many moments of pithy salience, perhaps my favorite being “Live in the now!”
This is hardly a new concept, having several thousand years of Guru based insight underscoring the same advice. In popular culture, the “living in the moment” idea is distributed from Star Wars (Yoda, naturally) to Psychology Today.
It is a difficult thing, this living in the now. Perhaps because we are the sum of our memories and those memories cause each of us to have expectations (or designs) upon the future. The challenge in future planning is to extrapolate a practical balance between hopes/expectations and actual likelihood.
I admit to being fully taken in by Ms. Howe’s practicality, world weary observations, and her choice to seek out the meaning of each moment revealed. Perhaps this last point is the item to practice fully. To seek out the meaning and the positive as much as possible. To turn around the negative into something positive. Though it is a couched attempt at generating more business, I cannot help but be moved by Insurer Liberty Mutual’s ad campaign, “Responsibility, what’s Your Policy?”.
Seriously, all these things that for many of us used to be a part of public education, weekly religious doctrine, and more seem to have fallen to the sidelines in popular culture.
Ironically, I don’t think it has to. I do believe, however; that good news should be promoted.
Somewhere in this blog, I have written many things about my own perspective of “wealth”. Frankly, my family doesn’t see ourselves as wealthy as we struggle against rising expenses across the board, with less income. However, I have no platform on which to whine or wallow in my own just-beneath-the-surface selfishness. We are clothed, fed and housed. We have the tremendous good fortune to have trusted and loving friends, family and neighbors. We live within a spectacular part of the planet, the State of Vermont. In fact, I implore you to check out the World Wealth Calculator for your own reality check.
As an unrelated (but perhaps related) aside: some thoughts about “living in the now” and creativity. Being immersed in creative play and development for my entire life (thank you Mom and Dad) — it is a large part of what I know.
From music to graphical arts to poetry, prose, architectural design and sculpture, I have enjoyed many avenues to express my own muse. In addition, all of these creative disciplines combined have greatly influenced my contributions to product development, corporate planning, marketing, municipal planning and much more. To be completely candid, creativity is part of everything I do, every decision I make, from domestic challenges (lawn tractor, bicycle and auto repair and maintenance, to pluming, carpentry and electrical) to personal relationships (how much empathy can you find in relating to another individual’s situation?) .
I have observed in the past 25 years that most humans possess an amazing amount of creativity that they simply don’t choose to exercise. This is a shame. Not because of the personal loss of this type of very healthy expression, but because it leads to a society that doesn’t value creativity. Without creativity, you don’t have creative solutions to challenges. Where do you think “out-of-the-box” thinking comes from? Hint: it does not come from memorization of textbooks. Witness the complete lack of music and art in public schools… where to cut expenses? Cut the budget for the VERY THING that makes us human… creativity! It seems outrageous. You have entire world industries…manufacturers of musical instruments, art supplies and universities, big city symphonies and more wondering why no one is either interested — or prepared — in any of these valuable artistic disciplines! Look no further than your local school board, folks. As in the classic POGO cartoon for Earth Day in 1971, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
A further aside: in my work as a subcontractor to Research and Design groups of very large corporations, I have had the privilege of working with some of the most intelligent, scintillating men and women I may ever meet in this lifetime. ALL are highly artistic and ridiculously creative. To say that music, art and creative training from K-Ph.D has no value is complete and utter nonsense. Humanity’s history isn’t remembered by budget cutting. It is remembered through its art and architecture. As my friend Suzanne Roberts often recounts, “Ars longa, vita brevis (Art is long, life is short.) Taxpayers, please take note. You can’t have a future without investing in creativity. Without it, you get Groundhog Day.
Returning to the original premise of this meandering diatribe, ritual and discipline can have a significant, positive effect toward “living in the now”. Making time for a daily “quiet time”, which you might also call “meditation”, “prayer”, semantics not withstanding, is a critical order. Do you have drive time in your work? Shut off the car audio, mute your cell phone. Use the time to “be”. Some of my best ideas have occurred to me during long drives from Vermont to points afar.
For me, mornings are the best. Mostly because I have to be up with our two aging female dogs. There’s something about the stillness at dawn I still find remarkable, if not downright miraculous. My dear friend Linda Stoler advocates dancing, among other many other creative, simple things. I believe she is absolutely correct. All of the practices she suggests can add up to reinforcement of being in the moment.
I believe we will be remembered for our individual contributions to each of those who know us. I believe this is best served when we make a supreme effort to train ourselves to appreciate each and every moment, to “live in the now” in order to value this gift of life—or at the very least to overcome its challenges with as much compassion as we can muster. It’s a tall order, but one absolutely worth the effort.
On a recent rebroadcast of Christopher Plummer’s performance “Barrymore” one of the lines (paraphrased) is that “…you know you are old when dreams are replaced by regrets.”
May each of us forever be dreamers.