Do You

by Chris de Serres

I was watching this short video that explored this notion.  Everyone and everything dies.  You.  Your mom.  Your dad.  Your sisters and brothers.  Your children.  Everybody you ever knew.  So how should we experience our time on Earth?  Do we just pick a philosophy?  The uber-cliche of live the moment.  We could go the middle way of Buddhism, avoiding attachment and the suffering that comes with us.  There are many ways to experience life, so many choices to make. 

This being a western culture we live in we are always brought back to living the moment, living boldly, experiencing all life has to offer.  That’s our way.  That’s what the commercials tell us to do.  That’s what best-selling authors like Eckhart Tolle and any number of motivational speakers tells us.  It’s in all the movies.  This notion.  It’s what almost every protagonist in almost every upbeat movie turns to before the credits run down the screen.

We have been running on this be in the moment track for a few decades now in America.  Life should be that simple.  Yet our attention spans are limited.  It seems almost impossible to always be ‘on’ and attentive to the here-now.  So one inevitably asks how can we increase the capacity of our attention?  This is a billion dollar cottage industry.  Meditation.  Yoga.  The thousand varieties of exercise. 

Some, like me, do something dangerous like mountaineering.  We toil and suffer for hours on end in order to have that brief respite on the summit of a mountain.  We shock ourselves into living the moment by experiencing moments of brief danger.  When the moment requires your attention you must give it, and there is nothing more urgent than staking your life in it.

I cherish these moments.  I appreciate the simplicity of surrendering to what is.  The humbleness that is required to experience it. 

So should I put all my eggs in one basket?  The here-now.  I could be completely unfiltered and surrender to all the emotion of triumph and all the pain of loss.  Should I stay in the middle and not grasp so tightly to life?  Let it come over me and not feel so desperate about the external events around me.  Non-attached but not unaffected.  Many of us go another direction completely.

I’m not sure what fits for me would fit for you.  The great thing about being a unique individual is I get to use what works for me.  I never have to conform to any religion.  I can take what I want and try it.  Then keep it and discard it.  Even the idea of what works is completely defined by me.  What works now may not work in 6 months.  It is for all these reasons why being part of a religion or group of same-minded individuals seems completely preposterous.  The human experience is and will forever be variable, brilliant, and completely unique.