If we find ourself relishing the passing of time, why not spare a thought for our deathwish? We can rob it of its potency by holding it up, blowing the dust away, and polishing it, then watching it shrivel like Dracula in the sun.
‘…the demon must be found, conjured up and made visible. Then it could be conquered. ‘ Narcissus and Goldmund – Herman Hesse, 1930
Another thing we can do is to constantly indulge all our senses. We must keep telling ourself to focus intently on what we’re experiencing in the moment.
I was by the sea in Sussex. It was autumn. At dusk I went and sat by the sea to find whether I could see the light change. I gave it a good go. But I couldn’t manage it: it was cloudy and it was too gradual. Next evening I had another go. This time the sky was clear and there was a big moon. I sat by the sea at the end of the gleaming stream of waxen moonlight. And I could see the stream of moonlight gradually getting brighter. Very slowly.
And there are loads of other things. How often do you listen to music without doing something else at the same time? Can you listen to two tunes in your head at the same time? And listen to birdsong and the whispers on a wind … not just hearing: listening.
‘As you continue to walk, become more aware of the sounds that surround you, that are continually touching you through the delicate surfaces of your eardrums. Become aware of those oh-so-delicate vibrations. The tiny movements and flutterings of life. The quiet susurrus of the wind across the green fingers of the grass. The flutters of a bird’s wings. The tiny sounds that only children hear. Focus on them, let them grow in your awareness until they are all that you hear.’ (Stephen Harrod – The Secret Teachings of Plants, Cygnus Review, Issue 5, 2009)
A Swiss chap called Werner once taught me how to taste wine: take a tiny sip and let it flow round the taste buds on either side of the tongue. Why not focus fully on every sip, every morsel? Taste a raisin and make it into a slow feast. You’re on a train going through a long, black tunnel, longer than you expected, still going through it, longer and longer … and suddenly out into the relief and joy of a green landscape blessed with golden sunshine. The blind are still in the tunnel. In a special sunset see a fantastically lovely coastline. I stroked the surprisingly bony head of a little lamb and, when I offered my finger, I felt the urgent tug of its coarse tongue. And smell: I always notice the grateful smell of growing basil when I water it. Choose three of your favourite smells, preferably from three different sources … fruit, flower, food etc. And then imagine smelling them in turn really hard. Notice the different kinds of smell, and the different effects each has on you. Do they give rise to different emotions, to different sensations? And do they reach different parts of your body?
Finally, invent a smell – a smell that will have ten times the impact of the ones you’ve been sensing. Breathe it in deeply. Let it change in flavour and intensity.
‘Smells do give me impressions. I find them long or short, thin, thick, round, fat, deep or shallow, warm or cold, sharp or soft, pricking, spreading etc. I find they act differently as well. Some ooze, others waft, some are like fireworks and seem to shower pockets of smell, some linger and others are short-lived, some hurt your nose, others can be tasted, some I am very wary of and reluctant to breathe in, others I can’t breathe deeply enough and want to eat the smell.’ From an anonymous letter quoted in her Led by the Nose … a Garden of Smells by Jenny Joseph (Souvenir Press, 2002.
In his The Miracle of Mindfulness, the Vietnamese Buddhist, Thich Nhat Hanh, chides a friend for having the next segment of tangerine ready before he had finished the previous piece: ‘Thus we are sucked away into the future – and we are incapable of actually living one minute of life’.
There’s no time like the present: resist the pull of the future …
Make More Moments.