The present is truly the only place we exist. What we call the past is a construct of memory, the recollection of which constitutes a present experience. According to author Alan Watts, the future is likewise a construct, “and cannot become a part of experienced reality until it is present.” [...]
So, to know happiness in the future, we must be happy now. Delaying enjoyment of your life is to always live in Christmas Eve, with the many gifts around you staying securely wrapped.
Moreover, to participate in the moment — to be fully aware, is to be unified with the experience, and free from the separating identity of being the experiencer.
[Watts:] "To understand music, you must listen to it. But so long as you are thinking, 'I am listening to this music,' you are not listening. To understand joy or fear, you must be wholly and undividedly aware of it. So long as you are calling it names and saying, 'I am happy,' or 'I am afraid,”' you are not being aware of it."
Not only are you not being aware of it, you are creating the “I” who is afraid, and thus, by this separation, guaranteeing fear’s constant threat.
“This is not a psychological or spiritual discipline for self-improvement,” Watts writes. “It is simply being aware of this present experience, and realizing that you can neither define it nor divide yourself from it. There is no rule but ‘Look!’”
Centuries of Occidental society and culture have made grasping, much less embodying, this revolution in thinking very difficult. We are hardened materialists, fully beholden to identity and addicted to distraction. We evade pain and crave security, and doing so assures us painful, insecure lives. The imminent unknown is not to be avoided, but embraced. Our resilience, our adaptability, is reliant upon us being completely sensitive to the moment, and understanding it as being a new, unique experience. We live in a series of infinite nows, which are always dying, and always being reborn. To be immersed in this reality is to be transformed, for it is there that eternity is available.
“For the perfect accomplishment of any art,” Watts tells us, “you must get this feeling of the eternal present into your bones — for it is the secret of proper timing. No rush. No dawdle. Just the sense of flowing with the course of events in the same way that you dance to music, neither trying to outpace it nor lagging behind. Hurrying and delaying are alike ways of trying to resist the present.”
Tom Maxwell is a writer and musician. He likes how one informs the other. Excerpt from article.