Today after work, I was feeling particularly depressed. Yet for the first time in a good few weeks, I felt more determined than “not at all” to do something to mitigate it. So I decided to go for a walk in the park after work, seeing as it was a nice sunny day.
I’ve injured my back, which has forced me to walk very slowly at first, while it loosens up after a couple of hours sat at the desk. I took my time to wander gently around the park, noticing the hospital being constructed in the distance, the houses over the rolling hills before it, and then ultimately the grass, flowerbeds and hedges immediately in front of and to the side of me.
I thought about the hedges, and how depressing it is that they are fashioned into such boring, rectangular shapes – and yet they cannot express any discontent at this. That is, so to speak, their lot. My mind then wandered to the animals of this world. They sleep, they hunt, they eat, they play, they reproduce. Yet they have no discernible grand purpose, no reason for being.
I often feel anxious about what I am doing with my life, yet don’t enjoy the here and now. something I touched on in a recent post. Today has solidified that thought somewhat. It occurred to me that the animals and plants don’t need a reason to be. They simply are. They take part in the ecosystem that they live within – they simply contribute to something greater than themselves. Are we not meant to do the same, perhaps?
For if we insist on the application of meaning to our lives – if indeed we insist on a life of never ending time – day after day after day – then we will find that, ultimately, we become stuck in an existential crisis and the realisation that all is indeed pointless.
However, embracing the pointlessness of existence can lead to better things. In doing so, I was, in that moment, able to begin to let go of my hopes and dreams. I was able to let go of my desires – both good and bad, and focus instead on the here and now. I’m enjoying the sun, I thought. I’m safe, I’m content, I can feel my back healing, I can enjoy the wonderful sights of nature before my eyes. In this moment I can be positive. I can enjoy life.
For when we let go of the need for meaning and instead pursue the present moment, that is when we find meaningfulness in things. What’s funny is that I then realised that Jesus’ words on presentness and living for now started to make a lot more sense in this context.
Don’t worry, for who by worrying can add a day to their life? If we concern ourselves heavily beyond the present moment, then we will surely not experience it in fullness. As CS Lewis so aptly points out in The Screwtape Letters, if we are not present in the moment; how can we possibly hope to connect with God?
That’s not to say we need to live a life of hedonism and debauchery. To live in the present moment, fully, is to live in such a way as to permeate all of our moments – to be healthy, loving, kind, at peace – these are all momentary things, yet things which extend beyond the moment. To live life to the full as Jesus put it. Eternal life. Not necessarily day after day after day after day, but at least life in all its fullness.
Then I came home and let my mind wander, and thought too much about the past six months. Now I feel crap again!