Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Being Present

In his Academy Award winning portrayal of alcoholic country western singer/song writer Bad Blake in the movie Crazy Heart, actor Jeff Bridges confesses he was not a good father. Blake left his son when the boy was 4 years old, and never communicated with or saw him again.
Asked how he parented his son before he abandoned him, Blake (Bridges) replies, "Even when I was there, I wasn't there."

We saw Crazy Heart today, and I have been dwelling on this honest yet painful confession.

Have you ever felt someone you are with is actually missing? Have you experienced a person sharing the same physical space with you, though they are not present? Not connecting? Not getting it?

Living in the present is perhaps Buddha's most famous teaching. In his book, What the Buddha Taught, (Grove Press, NY, NY, ISBN 9-780802-130310) Walpola Rahula reviews humanity's need to learn this lesson:
"People do not generally live in their actions, in the present moment. They live in the past or the future. Though they seem to be doing something now, here, they live somewhere else in their thoughts, in their imaginary problems and worries, usually in the memories of the past or in desires and speculations about the future. Therefore they do not live in, nor do they enjoy, what they do at the moment. So they are unhappy and discontented with the present moment, with the work at hand, and naturally they cannot give themselves fully to what they appear to be doing. "

Last week, my Mother related a beautiful vignette from her day, evidence she was absolutely positively living in the moment. Kay was outside, brushing out her dog Sur's undercoat. "I furminated Sur this A. M.. So much fur came off!" she wrote. "While I was sitting there on the front deck, a chickadee came and took some of the fur and flew off with it. I was so thrilled, just think Sur's fur is warming, or will be, some babies in the nest." (photo courtesy of Outside My Window bird blog.)

Interviewed about Crazy Heart before he won his Oscar, leading man Jeff Bridges was asked, "What do you want audiences to take away from the film?"

BRIDGES: "The words 'waking up' kind of comes to mind—that we can wake up from the bad dreams we put ourselves in."

Feeling alone is often the result of forgetting to live in the present. Is it time to wake up to this isolating practice, and manifest more joy in the present? Why not wake up and watch the chickadee make her nest? Now!

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