Here and Now

Ram Dass, the American academic-turned-Hindu-guru, now in his eighties (whom I’ve been following on Facebook of late), has been teaching students and readers how to Be Here Now, ever since his seminal (and still in print) book was published in 1971. I confess to not being one of the book’s millions of readers, but the title at least has never meant as much to me as it does right now at this stage of my life.

Here and now, in Guanajuato, Mexico, for four months, far afield from my comfort zone (my “woman-cave” condo in Taos, New Mexico), on my own, not-yet-Spanish-speaking, and newly embarked on my seventh decade of life, I’m learning, as if for the first time, how to Be Here Now. I’m sure Ram Dass would agree with me that it’s about time.

Every day in this present “now” is new and colorful and thrilling in its own way. New sights, sounds, smells, tastes. New challenges, new lessons, new stairs to climb. I’m gradually becoming attuned to the new music and learning new dance steps. My head is spinning from all of the surprises. I could never have planned all this.

The view of el centro from this terrace, in yesterday's rain
The view of el centro from this terrace, in yesterday’s rain

In an earlier stage of my life, as a professional caterer in Manhattan for ten years, planning for future events was something I think I excelled at. I could look into the future (into “my crystal ball,” I boasted), visualize the successful celebration, then break down all the steps required to get to that eventful day. I didn’t live in the “now” – if I ever knew how; I lived in the “when” of the scheduled occasion.

But that was then. And “then,” as it should be, is past.

Now, I’m realizing at this stage, “when” – what might happen in the future — becomes a bigger and bigger unknown.

This is not news to anyone, I know; rather, it’s a refresher:

All we really have is “now.”

But the impulse to plan ahead still lingers, like a computer program I can’t erase from my brain. At 70, making smart plans for your post-retirement years seems like the grownup thing to do, if you haven’t done enough of it already. The biggest questions for me, though, in this particular process, are: How long will I live? And: How can I make plans when I don’t know when the ultimate event will take place? I find myself wishing I could know my death date, the way I know my birth date. Knowing that would make planning so much easier.

Let’s say that were possible, and the date I’m given is two years from now. Ah, I’d think to myself, it’s back to my woman-cave in Taos for me – surrounded by dear friends and comforting familiarity. But if the date were farther into the future, say five or ten years away, I’d choose to move to Mexico, where life is happy, slower, and less stressful, the cost of living lower, and my retirement savings, such as they are (after having supported myself as a single woman all of my adult life), might stretch that far. The hard truth is that the United States is a great country and a fine place to live — if you have sufficient money. But if you don’t, it’s not.

So it comes back to this: I must teach myself to Be Here Now. I must repeat to myself, “You only have today! Que sera sera….” And so on, and so on. The caterer in me wants to plan but finds she can’t. The newfound adventurer turns on her heels, throws up her hands as if dancing some kind of solo tango, and laughs.

 

 

12 thoughts on “Here and Now”

  1. Like your piece, Bonnie! Yes, Ram Dass is enormously wise. I have been trying to live “here now” for some time, pretty much since I started meditating 17 years ago or so. It certainly helps, but it aint always easy!! I wish you well in your wonderful getaway in Mexico. I’ve been to Guanajuato and certainly LOVED it. Your being there reminds me I very much want to return to Mexico soon… Would love your feedback on my blog when you can get around to reading it.(magsreflections.blogspot.com)
    Adios for now, my friend,
    Mag

  2. Thank you, Bonnie, as always for your wonderful spirit! You are on yet another great adventure, full of rich thought, reflection, and inspiration.

    May your tortillas always be fresh!

    Joanna

  3. Bonnie, I think you’re braver than I am. Or more adventurous. I’m so content at home, I don’t think anything could drag me away from Taos. But knowing how much you love adventure, I would suggest you plan to live for 10 more years. Then que sera sera (Italian for let someone else worry about it).

  4. How true, Bonnie. What a wonderfully wise and vulnerable entry. Viva la here and now because, as you say, that’s all we have!

  5. Is this new home a visit or have you moved on and in? You are indeed brave and your life experiences have made you so. Some, perhaps many not by choice but you have certainly risen above and in it all. I admire you from afar. Good for you.

  6. I so agree with you and having had a construction company and design/build firm, I too was always thinking in the future with minute plans and daily construction schedules. BUT, after 15 years here, I’m very much in the NOW. IF I only knew when the end was, if soon, I’d take off on a GREAT trip and if longer, I would continue to live just as I am doing now. Simplifying makes life so much easier at this point.
    It is interesting how many of your commenters comment about how “brave” you are. Is that because you’re in Mexico or because you’re making a change? Great post.

    1. Thank you, Babs! I suspect the commenters think I’m “brave” because I’m going off on my own, making (or considering making) this big change in my life at this age. I don’t think of it as bravery; I think of it as necessity. I can’t afford to live in the States without continuing to work, and I’d like very much to retire and enjoy life in a simple manner.

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