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Living in the now -- Three meanings

Living in the now has at least three meanings.

1. It can mean not being mired in the past.

2. It can mean being spontaneous and free.

3. It can mean consciously focusing on what is before you.

All of these meanings apply. 
But there is another meaning that does not apply. 
It cannot mean ignoring the future.

The only attention to the future that is inappropriate 
is blindness to where we are at present. 
Otherwise, everything that happens in the now 
has no choice but to be germane to the future.

The summons to live in the now 
is primarily an effort to correct the tendency 
to live in the past, to be captive to memory, 
to ignore what is here at the moment, 
under our noses. 
If there is any form of reality that is clearly not here now, 
it is the past.

To be sure, there is a good deal of conscious effort 
to keep the past alive. 
The 9/11 observances are examples. 
We cannot shrug off either horrendous tragedies 
or wonderful memories. 
But to cling to things that we need 
to move beyond 
is no recipe for happiness or progress.

A wickedly painful divorce. 
Filled with recrimination. 
Fraught with consequences for children. 
We have all been there in our own lives 
or in the lives of those we love. 
When do we begin to control memory 
to the point that it does not paralyze?

It is true that time works to dim sad memories. 
But not always. 
Better to have at your beck and call 
a way to modify the effect of memories 
that continue to stop you in your tracks. 
That way is to interpose an INDEX 
into your two-step thought process. 
Instead of painful memory 
and a morose response, 
a painful memory, an INDEX of options 
and a free response..

That index is crucial. 
It's a list. 
It might well include some very personal needs: 
learning to clear your mind, 
seeking a text to recite that  snaps you out 
of your preoccupation, 
seeking  help.

Or your list could remind you 
of good values and action avenues 
that are there in profusion if one seeks them.

It really is now or never. 
Either break out or spend another day 
locked in some iteration of memory, 
some block, some sad cave, some inhibition.  
Almost everyone who has snapped out 
of something can remember 
when that freeing event took place. 
Something happened. Everything changed. 
The point of consciously living in the now 
is to increase the number of such moments. 
We need more and more now actions 
that represent progress 
both for ourselves and for the whole planet.


The "now" would be unimportant 
if this was a nominalist universe, 
say that of Descartes. 
If our thinking was the only validation 
we had of our existence, 
we would have no way of  explaining 
commonality, love, resonance, 
simultaneous thoughts, harmonies we create, 
bumps we experience, 
our inherited past 
or anything else that suggests reality 
beyond our perception of it.

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Stephen C. Rose (1936-) was born in New York City and raised there. He currently lives there. He was educated at Trinity, Exeter, Williams and Union Theological Seminary. He served in the Student Interracial Ministry in Nashville. He founded and edited the prize-winning Renewal Magazine in Chicago and studied with C. A. Doxiadis in Athens. His first books "The Grass Roots Church" and "Who's Killing The Church" established him as a prominent critic of American Protestantism and American religion. He was and remains a civil rights activist. He has interviewed and done in depth pieces on Saul Alinsky and Martin Luther King, Jr. He won awards for editorial courage and for two documentary films. He has written and published many songs and musical works including "We Are All Americans". During the late 90s and early 2000s he worked for UN agencies, most recently editing CHOICES Magazine at UNDP. Since 2000 he has written several books for distribution via K…