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29 December 2007

N is for now

Bodyclock “Nothing is worth more than this day.” –Goethe

In 2008, I am going to be here now.

When you unpeel it, 37days is all about now, but I find I don’t live in now very often. I live in then, or when, or one day.

I want, instead, to live in Now. This moment. What does that look like? I think it looks like a lot less time on the computer and a lot more time playing Candyland with a four-year-old or making vegan cupcakes with a teenager or raking leaves with Mr Brilliant. I think it looks a lot like paying attention. I think, for me, it looks a lot like writing or being creative every day. Maybe it just looks like breathing deeply every morning before flinging ourselves into the whirling stream of our lives. It is far too easy to be swept into the competing currents.

As Thich Nhat Hanh has written, “Life can be found only in the present moment. The past is gone, the future is not yet here, and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life.”

Pema Chödrön has reminded us that Now is the only time. That how we relate to Now creates the future. That what we do accumulates and that the future is the result of what we do right now.

I asked Billy Collins (you know, we talk constantly) if death is the main chord of all poetry. “Yes, it is. But poetry isn’t a consolation for death, for the reality that you will die. Instead, it is an expression of gratitude that you’re alive. Poetry italicizes experience or brings it into sharper focus. It provides a fuller immersion into life.” Poetry is about seizing the day, but we only need “carpe diem” if we realize we have a limited number of diems.

A friend who plans conferences told of a speaker who is in his early 50s and whose keynote speech is about something he did when he was eighteen. The impulse to point to that One Big Thing in The Past is too great, isn’t it?  What about now?

"My first book was a Fortune magazine best business book.” Or “I crossed the Sahara Desert barefoot when I was a toddler." Or "I invented bread."

It doesn’t matter. What matters is what you’re doing right now. Not what you will put on your resume from this moment, but what you will put in your heart. This will become clearer on our death beds, I’m sure. Yes, I’m sure of it.

Time is not money, it turns out. Time is life.

“Live this day as if it will be your last. Remember that you will only find ‘tomorrow’ on the calendars of fools. Forget yesterday’s defeats and ignore the problems of tomorrow. This is it. Doomsday. All you have. Make it the best day of your year. The saddest words you can ever utter are, ‘If I had my life to live over again.’ Take the baton, now. Run with it! This is your day! Beginning today, treat everyone you meet, friend or foe, loved one or stranger, as if they were going to be dead at midnight. Extend to each person, no matter how trivial the contact, all the care and kindness and understanding and love that you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again.” –Og Mandino


Nothing is worth more than this day when you are dying.

And you are.

Intentions: I’m going to take a positive pause in 2008, look to the long now, then be fully here now. I’m going to start slow, so as not to startle myself, by learning to simply breathe more deeply. Let's go back to ourselves in the present moment.

From the last alphabet challenge: N is for normal


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It is ironic, Patti, that the very immersion in Right Now that you speak of provides respite from the dying we are all doing. In fact, Right Now provides respite from all the junk which is going on between our ears when we are not right here, right now.

Going back to ourselves in the present moment, a choice motivated for some, perhaps, by the fact that today may be their last chance to do so, provides no space for that or any other past- or future-based concepts. What a joy, to take that space and devote it to Right Now!

Only Now...and Now...and Now. Sure, we'll run out of Nows at some point. What has that got to do with Right Now?

Has Leah told you that her word for '08 is NOW? :) Wonderful post...filled with important reminders.


Right now I want to thank you.

I have always enjoyed 37 days yet it is reading the current article now that is key.

I pause, I look at the gentle snowflakes floating by my window. No thought of cold or shovelling, just the flake (snow not me) and the moment.

I think the beauty of improvisation for me is the way it calls us into the moment.

I am starting a new blog on February 2nd - Ground Hog day and I want you to know right now that your writing and focus has been an inspiration for my next writing adventure.

It will be called diehappytoday - not some kind of namby pamby self-development piece, putting on a smiley face, or making lemonade out of lemons, but rather a constructive look at everyday living with attitude, respect, and comfortable uncertainty.

Thank you.


I came across your blog recently via a tip from Nancy White's Full Circle blog. I honestly don't think I am exaggerating when I say that her little tip was the best gift I received in 2007. Your blog entries are so beautifully crafted - they are a joy to read. The content is sheer delight. I can only blather and blurg in response.

I am with you on the Now bandwagon. It's just what I need. Allow me to make one comment about the future:
May 2008 be full of wonderful Nows for everyone!

WOW Patti! I just found your blog and have only gotten through a few comments and am awed. I am adding you to my Blogroll.

Your post reminded me of two quotes of mine.

"Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out." Oliver Wendell Holmes

"Death isn’t sad, the sad thing is that most people don’t live at all." From Peaceful Warrio by Dan Millman

My bumper sticker reads: How soon "not now" becomes never. Martin Luther said it originally out of impatience with the established church. I say it to myself almost every day to remind myself of all the "not nows" that have turned into never for my 11 yr old son who died 21 months ago.

My two other kids get very few "not nows" and none without an explanation or hug. They unschool at home so that they can follow their joy, which is art, now instead of after they go through 12 years of school.

I need to read your blog more often. I will. Now.

Shine On,

Rick - I wonder if we really do ever run out of "nows." Perhaps we don't...? Thanks for the food for thought, the respite.

Marilyn - thanks for letting me know about Leah's theme for 2008!

David - many thanks for your kind words. I hope the flakes are being good to you - and I look forward to your new venture!

Karen - wow. my thanks for your very generous comment. I look forward to our journey together in 2008...

Allan - wonderful quotes - I so appreciate your sharing them with me. And I hope you will continue to enjoy 37days - thanks for your compliments, and thanks for visiting my little corner of the world....

Oh, Lill. I am so, so sorry to hear about your loss. I cannot imagine the pain. Thank you for your note. I hope you will find a few things here that will have meaning for you. Jack Lemmon (of all people) once said something that has provided me much comfort - "Death ends a life, not a relationship." I hope it might provide some comfort to you, too. I have an artist in my midst, too - my 15-year-old. We need more artists in the world - thank you for encouraging those kids to follow their heart. Love, patti

hi, patti! i'm still here, still reading, and still behind on your alphabet. i do keep up with the book postings tho, and i am
so excited for you. i can't wait to get my own copy and to share
with friends and family. i am moved to write in response to this
post on living in the NOW. i have been working on this concept
myself for quite some time and, little by little, i am making some
progress. taking time for a deep breath, stopping to look at
the moon, enjoying a glorious sunset sky, all good ways for me
to feel 'in the now'. another thing i've learned to do is to forget
the chores and the to-do list when given the chance to spend
an hour or a day with someone i love. thanks for all the inspiration and confirmation you continue to give us all.

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