Here and Now

>      As I frequently mention, I don’t watch much television. However, I used to be in the habit of surfing the Sunday morning news shows between 9 A.M. and noon to get a summary of what happened during the week. I stopped doing that about a year ago when it was just too boring (and painful!) to listen to the same things over and over each week and on each station. Nothing really changed. It was the war in Iraq…pro and con on why we were there and how to get out…the economy…and the 2008 Presidential election.
    Yesterday, I decided to sit down, take a look and listen, and see what was going on. Surprise! Nothing has changed. Literally. All the shows were covering the same three stories! I had been elsewhere for a year and missed nothing. (Which tells me a lot about 1) the media and 2) how we squander precious time tracking nothing).
    Then, near the end of “This Week” with George Stephanopolous on ABC, there was a surprising two-minute segment with Alan Alda.
    It seems Mr. Alda had a near death experience that refocused his priorities on what really matters, which is the present. Literally, the instance of “now.” He made the point that 2000 years ago the Roman Emperor and prolific writer Marcus Aurelius had written of the importance of living in the moment. Tomorrow is a dream, yesterday a memory. All we really have, and where our personal power and joy resides, is in the moment. In being aware and present enough to fully experience and fully engage others…each and every second as those seconds are occurring.
This is not “news.” From Marcus Aurelius 2000 years ago to the contemporary philosopher Eckert Toll, untold numbers of individuals, philosophers and spiritualists have been trying to wake us up to the fact that living in the “now” is all there is.
    What is news is that “This Week” decided to put on a two-minute piece about it.  It presented a stunning contrast and vital lesson.
    Time is the commodity we most prize. I spent the last year not watching the morning news and missed nothing. If you spent the last year watching what I did not (52 weeks at 3 hours per week = 156 hours) you spent 3.9 weeks of your year..not to mention your life…staring at a picture that essentially never changed. You stared at nothing for almost 4 weeks of your life! If you do the math, and that’s all the television you ever watched (I doubt it) and lived, say, 40 more years, you’d spend 156 weeks of your life staring at something that never changes.
    Clearly, I have carried this to the extreme to make my point.
    The news we get is a diversion from reality. Reality is NOW. More importantly, reality is your own personal experience, not someone else’s experience or their interpretation of it. Spending precious life moments on meaningless babble by others who know nothing of your life or your life’s unique path is sorrowful.
    What a waste of the gift of existence you’ve been given.
    Alan Alda, in the fraction of time he was given, made the point that an exchange between he and one of his grandchildren that suddenly births something neither had anticipated is all that really matters. The rest is folly.
    I was both saddened and heartened by the two-minute story on Mr. Alda. Saddened that it was only two minutes when the messages is 2000 years (or more!) old and still not learned by humankind. But heartened because of something my 14-year-old daughter likes to say.
    Whenever she gets something she wants, but does not get all of that thing that she wants, she lifts her spirits by saying, “Well, a little is better than none at all.”
    Two minutes on national television for the single most important message of our time is not nearly enough.
    But it’s better than none at all.

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