Here we are at the turn of the year. It is the winter solstice and once again we are facing a new virus variant that they say is more transmissible than the previous strains. Will we never be rid of this disease? Nearly three years of sickness, death, disruption, threats,and travel bans. We are all weary and tired of the vigilance and missing parts of our lives that we used to take for granted. Looking out to the future, it doesn’t seem like there is any hope that we can get back to the life we used to have. From here it looks bleak and depressing.
What can we do to counter these thoughts that weigh heavy on our mental health? One thing we can do is strive to be here now.
What does it mean, Be here now? What is this moment? It is not the future and thinking about what ifs that are unending. It is not to look back and wish for how things used to be. It is just this very moment. Cats and dogs are very good at be here now. They don’t worry about the future nor dwell on the past. Small kids are good at be here now. I look up into the night sky and the moon is so excellent at be here now. As is the garden, especially the garden.
It is mid-winter in the garden, not the spring nor summer. Bulbs are sleeping in the ground until it is time. They don’t think of the future growth. I have one camellia in full bloom that is bright red with brilliant yellow centers. It is not thinking of dropping flowers, or remembering before the buds. It is blooming now.
One of the questions I have gotten during a tea presentation is, How long did it take for you to prepare for today? Of course, at the time, it was tea presentation coordinated with an art gallery, exhibition opening, and a festival. It took six months of planning, several site visits an hour away, practice, packing, loading, unloading, unpacking and a couple of hours of set up.
But in reality, it took 35 years of preparation for the presentation. 35 years of training in tea procedures. At least 25 years of putting on presentations to know what type of presentation to do, what to pack, how to use the venue to advantage, how to talk with an audience, how to answer the questions in the Q and A. All that planning and yet, I had to be there at that moment, to show up in my entire being and make tea and try to convey to the best of my ability the essence of Chado.
I have a grandchild and she is totally aware when I am present and when I am distracted or not paying complete attention. I think other adults in her life have so much going on that cannot give complete attention all the time, even though they try. It is a gift to others in your life to be here now.
A young monk went to the Roshi and said, “I am discouraged with my practice. What should I do?”
”Encourage others,” said the Roshi.