On the Moment

Last week was a wonderful week. On Wednesday, as I cheerfully settled down to some writing, I commented to my son that few people would believe I am as happy as I am. I know on the one hand some imagine that the terminally ill must be making 100% of every moment of every day, celebrating all we can since there are so few days left. And on the other hand are those who imagine the dying must be crushed by an immense suffering and depression at the prospect of leaving the world.

It would be nice to be in that first, always-happy group, but that’s hard (probably impossible) to maintain, especially as life –with all its challenges– just keeps on happening in the meantime. Leaving aside the issues of illness, sometimes my days end up dull or misdirected for various reasons. Sometimes there are heavy things to process. Sometimes there are annoyances. But lately, those days are rare. Most of the time, I really am in that happy place!

For me, the key to getting there is being in the moment. When I am managing well, that’s what I’m doing. There’s not much magic to this “in the moment” thing. It’s just that well-popularized Buddhist teaching that’s everywhere from instagram memes to glossy yoga magazines. It would be easy to be cynical about it. But I have to say, it works!

Decades ago in a hard time of my life when I desperately needed help just to get through the day, I was directed to and read a little bit of Buddhist philosophy. It made sense to me intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally. Most importantly, it made me feel better. Very likely, I got much of it wrong from a proper Buddhist perspective. But the “letting go” part especially worked for me, as part of my struggle then was anger at a situation that I had no control over (my younger’s son’s father’s abandonment of us). But I never took up a proper meditation practice: I just couldn’t manage it as a single mom at that chaotic time. Instead, I tried to bring some Buddhist principles into my daily life. This is probably not the ideal way to achieve serenity—let alone enlightenment—as it was easy to forget and end up off track—sometimes for years. But something was planted deep within me, and it took root enough to be bearing fruit now. Detachment and acceptance. Compassion and kindness. Being in the moment, present to all that is without judgement. These were the concepts that helped then and bring me true happiness now.

This moment! It’s all we ever have. And what delight there is in this moment! Most mornings, I awake so pleased to greet the day. I delight in the comfort of my bed, the purring of my cat, and I am grateful. These are the smallest, simplest things, but gratitude for anything brings happiness. And there are even more big things to be grateful for. That Wednesday as I sat down to write, the sunshine set the ice to sparkling on the trees. I was not suffering. My loved ones were for the most part well and healthy and happy. I was alive in this wondrous world. There was so much to be grateful for.

About susanbriscoe

English teacher, writer
This entry was posted in On Dying and Living and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to On the Moment

  1. Happiness is… reading you. xoxo

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Susan: this message came just at the right time. I went through three months of depression in the fall, a very long period for me and I could not even tie it into particular circumstances, other than everyday annoyances (beware of false cause). I started practicing what I learned long ago–stop, pause, be here, let go, say yes and detach. All of this has completely flipped my depression, and the circumstances are not necessarily any different from the fall. It has nothing to do with the circumstances. Happy. Period.

    I love your generosity of spirit and your beautiful articulation. Thank you so very much.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Create Space says:

    Susan your courage and positive inspires me! Acceptance and gratitude have helped me change my life and now I will remember your lovely summary of…”Detachment and acceptance. Compassion and kindness. Being in the moment, present to all that is without judgement.” Thank you and keep writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Val Boyko says:

    The ast paragrpah is so inspiring Susan. Thank you for reminding us what a gift each and each moment can be 💛

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Cate says:

    May you be peaceful and at ease, Susan. And thank you for reminding me of two gratitude-worthy experiences that define my mornings, as well: a comfortable bed and a purring cat. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Beth says:

    My first experience with studying anything Buddhist was the time I read “Bartleby the Scrivener,” an insightful story by Herman Melville. My professor in college took the “walls” interpretation, while I took took the Himalayan Buddhism approach. I failed the paper, but still feel I was right. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  7. leeawrites says:

    I am glad that you are able to enjoy moments. All the best.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you soo much for your wisdom. It reinforces my inner beliefs and inspires me to remember what is truly important. May the moments bring you much joy! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Dan Bohn says:

    Dear Susan,
    I love your writing. Sunshine on you,,,, cat purring. I too remember a time when a single breath that filled my lungs was the most wonderful moment. As the hip kids say these days, “Peace out.”
    With unconditional love,

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Janice Falls says:

    dear Susan, your happiness is contagious! You are such a wise teacher in this challenging time in your life. Being in the moment is simple though not easy to do but what delight, such gratitude. I so look forward to the inspiration of your writing. May every day bring you many moments of happiness. xoxox

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Marion Murphy says:

    Susan, I read your writings and learn so much – I’m doing a presentation on Wednesday for our Counsellors at Dawson on death and Life Transitions and wondered if you would mind if I printed this particular blog to share with my fellow psychologists – I found it very inspirational and I’m sure they will too. If you’re not comfortable sharing with people you don’t know I will understand.
    Marion Murphy

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I live in the moment each day and I am not ill, but know that this can change at the drop of a hat. My husband is terminally ill and so we wake up each day and thankfully smile at each other.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thank you for sharing this. Our lives may not be all we would have wanted, but they are what we get. You reminder to find gratitude in the midst of all of it is a blessing for me today.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. jacobjslominski says:

    Your words made me cry. It’s so helpful for me to hear, as someone who lives with chronic pain. Love, Jacob

    Liked by 1 person

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