Do you remember when you first discovered Ram Dass’s 1970’s iconic Be Here Now? When you cracked open that journey? I do… only a teen unsteady on which way was up but I dove in all the same.
Those years revolved round myself. Being here now meant more time with an emphasis on present enjoyment. Chasing the next high until reality drifted out of view. Being present was pure frenzy. What may have started as new-age spirituality for others morphed onto immediacy for me and my crew, and even though there was the notion that we, this new generation, care beyond ourselves, to include all the souls inhabiting this one earth, the real focus was on one’s small private world, frequently spinning out of control, fast, then faster. From my vantage, Ram Dass ignited a wave of self-professed hedonists, of which I was yet another faithful fan, who heralded in reckless totality. By the time I reached my early twenties, the party had consumed too many around me; I was lucky to crawl out of the glitter alive.
I credit my oldest child for saving me. I am eternally indebted, as one is to saviors, which I remind him on his every birthday. Before he arrived I weighted little and felt less. The world of smoke and blow and nowness emaciated me. But with child, the moment ceased to be about me alone, and turmoil melted away. That child led to another, and yet a third, and, me came off the list. Being Here Now was about breakfast, lunch and dinner, for them. Heating bills and laundry duty. The now was under heavy demand by small hungry beings who followed me from dawn into the twilight.
Somewhere in that newly configured chaos, I slipped further away. Perhaps it was the seductive future that first snapped me up, with the promise of better whatevers. Flashy. Golden. What might lay ahead lead me onward; day after day I chased such a rosy future as if I could undo divorce and single-parenting and poverty and previous bad decisions piled up pretty high. Tomorrow will prove better, I silently chanted as I rocked, look ahead, beyond this day, to one where you will matter, you will control, and you will return. That shiny promise enabled me to crawl out of the ash again.
When I finally took a step back to now, years out of touch made the present moment feel rusty. Paler than I remembered. A bit too ordinary. I kept at it though. Watching the shaft of light trip across the wall. Listening as a chickadee sang out. Sensing the warmth from the fire. A violent sunset reached through my ribs and dragged my heart out into the road. Feel, it demanded. Ordinary made majestic. Feet landed on the earth. For me movement was the way into the now. Following the breath. Moving my limbs. In air. In water. Connecting heart and body. Eventually yoga became the start I needed at daybreak. A lap lane in the afternoon. Rituals took hold with the singular purpose of facing this moment head on.
I did. Return. As did the pull to the now. Although this time with less frivolity. More substance. Flair.