The present moment. It’s everywhere. Zen says: in it, the good life shall be found. But, it’s difficult to talk about the present moment because the idea is inherently difficult to grasp. Is living in the present a dreary state of nothingness, a philosophical non-sequitur or a skill of a robed mountain monk? And, how long am I not allowed to use my phone?
Time speeds up as you grow older. It’s not a gradual increase. One day, you are a kid playing cricket on the street and you think this is life forever. Next day, you and most of your friends are married and forever has a new meaning. In a couple of hours, you are attending one of the friends’ daughter’s weddings and there’s little forever left. Your friends and you reminisce the days of street cricket and Cartoon Network. Tears convene in the crinkles. May be emotions. Or cataract. You laugh in unison anyway.
How did the days pass so fast? The roar of life has been replaced by a handful of still images. People you met and names you heard have been smudged by the now watery memory. There’s little to let go of because there’s little to hold on to. All that is left of the present moment is some moment of the past. The distant future is tomorrow.
Now that I have you freaked out and present, let’s talk about sunrises and sunsets. You know this is a big deal right? It’s the moment that makes you dance to the romantic tunes of life and all. Which is great and would make sense if the Sun was this rare star that showed up once a year, and you went up a hill to watch the rare spectacle. But, you can watch the sun rise/set standing in a corner of a muddy road in sector 43, Gurgaon as well. I don’t claim to have been in the present moment exactly because I was thinking about sunscreen and my phone’s anti anti-glare behaviour while standing at that corner.
The reason we romanticize everyday moments is because as we become older, the everyday moments speed up, and at some very ambitious point, they stop. They stop because we have entered the next day. The day we incredulously watch that dork of our friend who constantly peed his pants, get married. We think of all the cringing embarrassments, pounding adventures, and exaggerated stories of romantic heroics.
These seemingly ordinary moments lend clarity and beauty to the still images of the first day. These moments are like the water that occupy the crevices of a container full of stones—the water that lends space to the spaceless. And the moments are becoming rare on the second day because we are obsessively preparing for some magical time in the distant future where we can bring all these moments together in rapid succession.
Where then is the present moment?
The present moment is not monks, mats, and maroon robes. It’s not the smiling worriless state of existence where all thoughts about future are contemptible. It’s not even what you are doing now – reading this. The present moment is what happens around you every day as you are reading this. And living in that moment is not closing your eyes to transcend into an indescribable unknown. It’s opening your eyes to the repeating moments that you’ve become absent to on this second day.
I remember standing in my office staring at the cloudy sky and thinking about the mess of the roads, Uber surge, and my clothes hung outside.
How did it come to this on the second day?
When did the idea of rain move from the excitement to smell earth to this? How did I go from aimlessly listening to the static of the rain to mindlessly talking about how ‘amazing’ the weather was the next day?
Somewhere between the first day and the second day, a 1000 suns set, a 1000 butterflies fluttered, a million people walked past, a 100 friends walked in, a 100 friends walked out, the past became the present, the present became the future. And all the while you have been missing out on someone’s presence.
I hear the sun shall set today.