Take a moment to think about the size of the universe into which we’ve had the good fortune of being born.
Christopher Hitchens, the writer and orator, summed it up beautifully in the opening sentence of a speech he made in 2011. At the time, cancer had taken hold of his body – he knew he was in his final months of life.
For a few milliseconds of cosmic time, our species has lived on one very very small rock, in a very small solar system that’s a part of a fantastically unimportant suburb in one of an uncountable number of galaxies.
– Christopher Hitchens
As we sail through life, we’ll almost certainly become diverted by the infinite number of distractions and pressures available; each tempting us to feed them with attention. They hint of hidden satisfaction, knowledge and wisdom, but mostly, serve only to remove us from our own presence, leaving us a state of confusion, frustration and worry.
For me, the quote above serves as a welcome reminder of just how small I actually am; how astronomically lucky I am to exist in the first place. It reminds me to respectfully confront ego, fear and their partner in crime: anxiety. For without proper supervision, these 3 trouble-makers have a nasty habit of taking control of the ship, distracting from that which matters most.
I often think about the timeline of the universe, Big Bang through to now. I see a line—an enormously long line—that encompasses the entire history of time. At the end of this line is a fire.
My scribbled illustration doesn’t quite do it justice, but it’ll work, for now.
This fire is now – the present moment. It’s been burning long before we got here, and it’ll be burning long after we’re gone. It never stops.
We have a glimmer of opportunity to experience this exquisite fire in all its beauty and wonder. It is here—all around us. We are a part of this fire. We are the fire itself.
But unless we can become aware of this, it doesn’t matter. The fire may as well not exist. We go through our lives consumed by the past and/or the future, while the rich, fulfilling lives we dream of never find their way to the present.
This is where it’s happening: right now – this very moment. The past is a memory. The future is unknown. There are no guarantees. For any of one of us, today could well be our last day.
This is not to say that we should not learn from the past, visit memories or plan for our future selves. Always, of course, there is a balance to be found.
Take a few moments each day to quietly re-connect with now, exactly as it is—not to judge, change or fix it, but to merely become aware. Notice. It doesn’t take long – even 10 seconds of mindful awareness will be effective. 10 minutes is better, but remember: consistency is more important than the length of time invested.
Of course, we’re always learning. Our minds will wander. We will drift off course. Notice that too.
Remember, this moment only happens once. Surround yourself with the fire of the now. Drink it in.