All The Moments
Years ago, I discovered the work of the late Alan Watts from, of all places, an album by the (very) hard rock band Nothing More.
I do enjoy some hard and heavy music. But this album was different; several songs included some audio of Watts speaking about his views on impermanence, reality, the universe, and more.
At one time, Watts had been studying to become an Anglican priest when he began exploring Buddhism and changed the direction of his life.
His Christian education helped form and inform his writing and teaching, and the more I read his work, the more I learned about my faith. It's funny how that works, isn't it?
I was raised believing you shouldn't foray into other religions because everything but Christianity was false, and you couldn't learn anything from them. Besides, you might be led astray.
Balderdash. I've waited a long time to use that word in a Devo.
One of the many ideas that Watts explored is one that Jesus spent a great deal of time trying to teach his disciples---the idea of the eternal, naked now.
When I say "naked," I mean that it's stripped of all the trappings we place upon it, our constraints, our restrictions.
We tend to view the present only in relation to the past and the future. We fret over our past and worry about what comes next, and very rarely stay fully present where we are from moment to moment.
And so, many of us come to different stages in our lives, wondering how we got there. We feel unaccomplished, unfinished, and ordinary. We want to know what our purpose is.
But just as Jesus taught, this moment is all we have. If we only learn to embrace this, it would set us free to realize the precious nature of all our moments. We would find the freedom to be the people we long to be.
Watts puts it like this:
We are seeing, then, that our experience is altogether momentary. From one point of view, each moment is so elusive and so brief that we cannot even think about it before it has gone. From another point of view, this moment is always here, since we know no other moment that the present moment. It is always dying, always becoming past more rapidly than imagination can conceive. Yet at the same time it is always being born, always new, emerging just as rapidly from that complete unknown which we call the future. Thinking about it almost makes you breathless.
Not only is this a beautiful and liberating way to think about the lovely impermanence of life and how precious our moments are, but it also reflects the eternal rhythm of dying and rising embedded in all of Creation.
A few months ago, I wrote a poem from a prompt inviting me to write about the best day of my life. The last stanza speaks directly to Watt's point:
The best day of your life.
You can't pick one.
But it's not impossible.
It's not ridiculous to consider.
There is not one single day.
You can't narrow it down.
There are moments.
All the moments of your life.