Vocalist/Composer, Artisan, & Lover of Beautiful Things

This Moment (not the EP)

By the time I recognize this moment, this moment will be gone.
— John Mayer

There are so many variations of the idea that the only thing that "exists" or "matters" is the present. This idea has often been presented through song. The mindfulness technique offered by many therapists is centered around this idea of staying in the present as a means of reducing anxiety. I, myself, released a project last year entitled This Moment the EP, celebrating the beauty of living in and experiencing our moments as they come. And, for certain, there's a sense of contentment, even if potentially false, that comes from staying present.

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  Recently I encountered an idea that challenged this notion for me. Listening to TED Radio Hour is one of my favorite pastimes while on the road, and my Labor Day Weekend drive to Chicago was no exception. I stumbled on the episode entitled Shifting Time (a link for listening will be posted below), and one thing stood out to me. The idea was presented that rather than the present being the only time frame that exists, it's the only one that doesn't. Rather than the present being a thing unto itself, it's merely the point where the future meets the past. As, for instance, the line we perceive between land and water at the beach or even sky and land. There is no actual line there. It is what is perceived in the moment land ends and water or sky begins. In fact, based on how our synapses fire, we perceive each moment we experience at a time delay. Scientifically, we never actually live in the present.

Which for me raises the question: 

"Is the idea of living in the present a form of escapism?"

My answer would be, "Maybe." One can easily become lost in the fleeting and ephemeral "moment." That could explain why it is so successful in the immediate calming of anxiety for people whose worries come from heavy contemplation of the future or past. The issue is both the future and past exist. And if the present is the point where they both exist simultaneously, creating the idea of the present as something different, or absent of each is a retelling of facts.

On the other hand, one of the strongest arguments for "living in the moment" is its ability to inspire action. If the past can't prevent you from doing in this moment and the future holds no tangible response to your action, one is more compelled to do things she may not otherwise.

I don't really know how far my mind is going to process this from here, especially because time itself is a strange and abstract concept that is was constructed to explain things rather than define them, but for now I think I've come to understand the present as a fleeting mirage. I still find merit in living in the moment and being present, but I think it's an event rather than a continual way of living life. For example, taking time out of your day to "be present" as a way of managing stress is good use. Spending time with loved ones requires presence. I think the concept of living in the moment may be a tool for stopping time when time is moving too fast for us to catch our breaths.

Maybe. Or maybe I'm just tripping because I woke up at 3 AM on a day I thought I had to go to work only to find out I don't actually work today. Time is a mother fucker.