The other night, I watched one of my favorite movies for the millionth time – or so it seemed. “Tombstone” is a movie that has its funny moments, but it also has some very poignant ones as well, typically centered around the friendship between Wyatt and Doc. At one particular point, Doc is asked why he is helping Wyatt hunt down the outlaws that have decided to wage personal war against him (Wyatt). Doc responds with a statement that Wyatt Earp is his friend. The counter-response was “Hell Doc, I’ve got lots of friends.” And Doc’s response comes back with “I don’t.” Its an indicator that Wyatt is part of Doc’s tribe – a family member so close, that Doc will step in on Wyatt’s side no matter what.
Later in the movie, as Doc lies in bed dying, he and Wyatt start their last conversation. Within that conversation comes a moment that I try my best to put into practice in my own life.
Doc: What did you ever want?
Wyatt: Just to live a normal life.
Doc: There’s no normal life, Wyatt, it’s just life. Get on with it.
Over the past few months, there has been news story after news story about attacks and violence here and there throughout the world. In my dreams, I constantly am reminded that “the storm is here” and that I need to find and locate my tribe. That weathering the coming storm will be easier with my tribe than it will be standing solo against the wind, rain, and hail. I watch – admittedly its sparingly in time – the political trends that are showcased via the current party conventions, and with world politics in other countries. I can not only hear, see and read the shift back towards nationalism and fundamentalist religious beliefs, I can feel the divisions that this creates between everyone. In many ways, I notice how the landscape changes around me, and I lament for the times just a decade ago – essentially wanting that “normal” life.
But then, my meditations remind me – being in the now. Being in the present. There is no normal life, there’s here and now. Being in the present tense, or to quote the Geddy Lee of the band Rush from his solo album “My Favorite Headache”:
Living in the present tense
When you lose the past
And the future makes no sense
You’re living in the present tense
Nothing to blame
No victim of consequence
You’re living in the present tense
–Geddy Lee, “The Present Tense”
Sure, its sometimes useful to think ahead or to look back. But when we spend too much time trying to get ahead of ourselves or looking backwards and wishing for those “better” times – we can lose that moment of mindfulness of today. What has happened already is, and what is to come is not yet here. But being in the moment of today, we have the ability of action. That action can draw from our past, utilizing those experiences to communicate what can be tried in the now. And our actions will affect our future, literally altering how our current perceptions of what is to come can be seen.
The now is important. How we comport ourselves, how we communicate with others, how start, alter or even end bonds we have with others. If we make those changes with an eye to the future, or through the microscope of the past – we miss how those changes affect our here and now. We need to be mindful of what is happening today.
This morning, I stood out by my little stone circle in the backyard and watched the sun rise. I didn’t worry about a political situation that will eventually play itself out in November through the voices of many here in the United States. I didn’t focus on the events of yesterday or even the day before – or even my shitty week at work last week. I watched the sun peek up over the horizon, and start to brighten the beginnings of today. I marveled at the beauty of the rising sun, which I have seen countless times before. I noticed how this morning was so different from so many others – the songs of the nearby birds, enjoying the bird seed I brought out with me – the slight breeze I could feel on my exposed skin – the sound of that same wind making the leaves of the nearby trees rustle. That was a moment that will be unique in my life. No other moment will be exactly the same. Many before it have been similar, but I marvel at the uniqueness of each of those moments, and count myself as fortunate to experience each and every one of those moments.
There’s an election coming up. I completely grok a lot of what is happening, and how it has come to pass. But I am also mindful that each moment is unique. That what happens here and now will feed into the narrative of what is to come. That what I see coming into view in the future, may not be completely true. Many things can happen. In the meantime, I can honor my Gods, my ancestors, the Spirits of Place, myself, and my tribe…by remembering that the current moment is precious and unique. And should be experienced for what it is. Its not normal, it just is.