Let’s face it: this can be a challenging time to stay present to the here and now. Ever since the pandemic began, I find myself waking up in the middle of the night marvelling that the world we live in has become more strange than my dreams. I shake my head wondering how to stay present to a reality of so many unwanted conditions and limitations. What if I would rather be somewhere — anywhere — else, sometime — anytime — other than now, without social distancing and masked exchanges and air hugs shared on Zoom or six feet apart?
Still, I’ve been thinking about how this might be the most profound lesson I’m learning in this time — to “Be here, now” as Ram Dass famously put it decades ago, meaning wherever here is in any given moment, under any given conditions.
A short distance from my house, is a poetry garden I often visit on my morning dog walks, where one of the benches declares, “The Poem is Here — Hear!” It makes me think about how being present to the here and now is really what a spiritual practice of writing invites me to do. To sit and pause long enough, pen in hand, to notice what is happening inside me and all around me. To listen to the poems life is writing in my heart and in the world. To record those poems on my own page.
A short video, recorded in the poetry garden last week, shares a reflection on this. If you want to do some writing on this question after watching the video, try sitting comfortably in silence for a few minutes, just focusing on your breath. If your thoughts turn your attention to the past, gently return to wherever you are here and now. If you start thinking about the future, just notice what is happening and compassionately call your attention back to the present moment. What is the poem you hear when you listen to this moment, right now, right here? Writing in prose or in poetry, jot down whatever comes, possibly beginning with the words, “What I hear now….” and following wherever that leads.