One day, I was at the doctor’s office for a medical procedure. My daughter (age 3 at the time) happened to be with me, sitting on my lap. The office was a bit cold. They might have had the air-conditioner on too high. Anyway, after the basic exam during which they checked the lymph nodes under my arms, the medical professional left the room. Annie returned to my lap.
I got the idea to check my daughter’s lymph nodes, which led me to tickling her. She began giggling hysterically – and continued to do so as her bladder emptied.
I sat there as the wetness spread to my shirt, my undershirt, and all the way through my jeans.
As it was happening, I noticed that I was conflicted.
It felt good – pee is warm and we were laughing. Physically it was an enjoyable feeling, kind of nice. But in the moment, I was also anticipating the wet becoming cold and unpleasant, and my judgment about urine being unclean was rising. I wasn’t able to fully take in the ‘joy’ of the moment.
How often do we live in the future or the past, instead of the present?
When a fly lands on my hand or face, the sensation actually is not
horrible. It’s my associations that make it horrible. It’s thinking about where that fly has been that disgusts me. What if we lived mainly in the present, while not fretting over what may have happened in the past, or what may or may not happen in the future?
Here’s a famous story from Zen Flesh, Zen Flesh, Zen Bones
Buddha told a parable in a sutra:
A man traveling across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger after him. Coming to a precipice, he caught hold of the root of a wild vine and swung himself down over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Trembling, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him. Only the vine sustained him.
Two mice, one white and one black, little by little started to gnaw away the vine. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted!
Would living in the present help to diffuse any “upset” reactions quickly? Would it allow us greater enjoyment of whatever is going on around us?
This week’s spiritual-religious advice:
Be in the here and now. When you’re here and now – and if it feels good – enjoy it.