Every now and then during my morning meditation, a thought worth witnessing passes through my head. One morning a few years back, for no apparent reason, I was overwhelmed by the assurance — not spoken in words but communicated as a certainty in ways I could no more recollect than understand —that, at the end of this journey — my journey — I would return to a “soft cradle of light.” That light, bright but warm and reassuring, shown very clearly at a point between my closed eyes that morning. The memory of that light, and the comfort it bestowed, has pulled me through many difficult and uncertain times since I first witnessed it.
This morning, a new and seemingly self-evident truth paid a visit: “You can never be more — or less — than who you are right now.” Hmm. Interesting, I thought. Very nice, and I moved on. To what, I don't recall.
The thought occurred to me again 90-or-so minutes later as I was driving along I-35 South on my way to the airport. “You can never be more — or less — than who you are right now.” No longer in a pose of meditation but sitting upright and uptight while driving 80 mph down the freeway, my next thought was: “No shit, Sherlock. Doesn't take a genius to figure that out.”
But, if this truth were truly self-evident, why do so many of us spend so much time chasing illusive dreams that can't come true or wishing we were something more than who we are right now? If this truth were truly self-evident, why do so many of us spend so much money seeking the assistance of professionals to help us figure out who the hell we're supposed to be?
For a simpleton like me, spending too much time wishing I were someone I'm not or wondering about what the future holds (good or bad) can prompt a kind of fear that is detrimentally physical and visceral. It's a fear that can make my palms sweat, my stomach queasy, my vision blurry and my legs uncomfortably weak. For years I didn't know how to handle that fear other than to drink and to smoke. Now that I've removed both of those options from my life, at least for today, I've had to develop alternative coping mechanisms. One method in particular has proven most effective, and it's the quickest and cheapest one. When fear and doubt about who I am, where I'm headed, or what I'm doing sink their ugly teeth into the mortal minute of my day, I stop and ask myself one simple question to calm my nerves and clear my head: Am I OK right now, right here, this instant? If no one or no thing is threatening my life, my livelihood, or my loved ones right now, right here, this instant, then everything about that fear is instantly proven to be folly. It is a fear that begins in my mind, it lives and breathes in my mind, and so it must be snuffed out of my mind.
If I can breathe long enough to answer that question, “Am I OK right now?” there is no reason to doubt or to fear. Doubt and fear are defeated by default. All I have to do is believe that, right here and right now, and I can move on to the next right action.
“You can never be more — or less — than who you are right now” is a not-so-self-evident truth that should be plainly self-evident … every minute of every day.
Image courtesy of seaskylab/freedigitalphotos.net.