Wednesday 24 August 2011

The Immediacy of Now

Men are as forgetful and heedless
In their waking moments
Of what is going on around them
As they are during their sleep

Fools, although they hear,
Are like the deaf;
To them the adage applies
That whenever they are present
They are absent.


I recently wrote an e-mail to my dear friend, Nikki Campbell.  Nikki is South African and has run over 12 Comrades Marathons. She encourages runners all over the world by maintaining one of the best web-sites pertaining to Comrades Marathon training:
In my e-mail, I shared with Nikki all my training plans for Comrades 2012.  I told her how I planned to train to be stronger than ever and to run faster than ever.  I told her about the planned gym sessions, yoga sessions, long runs, speed runs and hill sessions.
She totally agreed with my approach but added, “Don’t over think it though Amit, just have fun out there”
I think Nikki offered a wonderful insight into the way our mind works. 
Osho says that most of the time we are blind to the present.  The mind sometimes cannot see that which is very near. It can only see that which is very far. Our mind always longs for the distant, never for that which near. That which is distant attracts us, makes us obsess about it, it goes on calling us, inviting us.   It gives us dreams and hopes and fills us with the possibilities of pleasure.  And in our craze to make the future right, we miss the present. We are full of expectations about the future and we keep missing the present. 
And finally when we do reach the goal, that which we used to know is now distant, now has an appeal, now something worthwhile. We long for the place from where we came. We long for the past.  But by then, not only have we lost what we had but we have also missed the beauty of the journey.
If I only think and obsess about that one day in June 2012 when I hope to run Comrades, I might simply miss the pleasure of all the days in-between. I should enjoy and celebrate each and every run from now until the day I run Comrades.
If I get caught in a certain thought process, I become closed to the present. I find that during every gym session, I am thinking only about Comrades day.  During every speed & hill session, I am thinking only about Comrades day. During every Yoga session, I am thinking only about Comrades day.
Of course, one cannot make it to the finish line on race day unless one has a plan.  But if I, as a novice runner, make race day my obsession, I will perhaps not enjoy the journey to the race day. And if I don’t enjoy the journey then, I have missed the beauty of this life. 
Osho share this story about a pilot who was flying over California.  The Pilot tells the co-pilot, “Look down at that beautiful lake. I was born near it. That is my village.”
He pointed to a small village just perched in the hills near the lake, and he said, “I was born there. When I was a child I used to sit near the lake and fish; fishing was my hobby.  But that time, when I was a child fishing near the lake, always airplanes used to fly in the sky, passing overhead, and I would dream of the day when I would become a pilot myself, I would be piloting an airplane.  That was my only dream.  Now it is fulfilled, and what misery! Now I am continuously looking down at the lake and thinking about when I will retire and go fishing again.  That lake is so beautiful...”
Nikki is right, we must not lose the present in search of the future. One must wake up every day and go out and simply enjoy the run.  There is so much pleasure in simply doing yoga, strength training, hill-training and speed sessions, each for its own sake!
Kalidas wrote: 
Look to this day!
For it is life, the very life of life.
For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow is only a vision
But today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness
And tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore, to this day.

I need to plan for the future but I need to live in the present because if I continuously focus only on that one single day, I might miss all the wonderful miraculous pleasure which running brings me every single day.  I might miss the present.
I have heard a story which may not be true but it is said that when Michelangelo was painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, he would sometimes get tired and bored of lying on his back high on the scaffolding facing the ceiling with the paint continuously dripping onto his face and body. 
From the top of the scaffold, he would see that every day a pious old blind woman would be brought to the Chapel in the afternoon when the Chapel was empty.
Somebody would bring her and then leave her there and she would spend the whole afternoon in the empty Chapel praying.
One day on a hot afternoon, when he was working on the ceiling he felt like taking a break.  He looked down and saw the old blind lady kneeling down in the chapel below and chanting her prayers. The Chapel was totally empty.  
He decided to play a prank on her and from the top of the scaffold shouted, “This is Jesus Christ, pray to me and I will perform miracles.”
The old blind woman kept kneeling, clasping her rosary and chanting her prayers and offered no reaction.
Michelangelo wondered what was wrong with her and shouted louder, “This is Jesus Christ, pray to me and I will grant all your wishes.”
The old woman kept kneeling and clasping her rosary but in an angry tone said, “You shut up! I’m not talking to you.  I am talking to your mother.”
Heraclitus said,
“Fools, Although They Hear,
Are Like the Deaf;
To Them the Adage Applies

If I get preoccupied solely with the future, I will be the fool who miss the gifts of the present. The present is equally, if not more, important than race day... Don’t over think it, just have fun out there...every single day.


  1. A beautiful post, Amit. A reminder of the quintessence of true living- live in the moment

  2. Hi Amit, just what I needed this very cold morning. Not getting in enough training and fretting about that when I do get out and thus do not enjoy it. Enough of that.

  3. Eek, sorry, that was me, Cila.

  4. Beautiful ... & so true - just like they say its not just about reaching the destination but the journey also ...

  5. Excellent!
    Yes... every milestone needs to be a smilestone :)

  6. fabulous......very well written

  7. amit your posts are excellent

  8. Very thought provoking note with a deeper meaning and connect to always is the case with all your posts. Thank you Amit!

  9. well said. Good reminder that one must enjoy present!!!

  10. As I always say ' Life dear friend is a God sent holiday enjoy it ' ... deepak