We are the navigators of our own trajectory in life, so say many folks. And sometimes the smallest tweaks can make the biggest difference.
So I’m going to talk about the ever-present now . . . and broccoli.
I’m also going to mention the ever-present nows that I’m not going to discuss, just as an aside acknowledgement of the cosmic nature of things.
Living in the now sits outside of our concept of linear time and, by all accounts, is the only moment that truly exists. A moment that we can only try to imagine, maybe as an electric pulsating diaphanous swirl of energy of cosmic proportions, both instantaneously here and not here. A now in which our 4 per cent recognisable universe gives us the illusion of manifesting into form, dancing with itself, dancing with itself in unfathomable multiverses, in every conceivable dimension and beyond, all dancing on a point smaller than a needle in time, recreating itself each and every nanosecond. And even then, ineffable and, let’s face it, regardless of what we can imagine, probably utterly incorrect anyway.
But that’s not the time to which I refer. We can come back down to earth and slip back into the more recognisable timelines in which we tend to function. The mobius track upon which we course our lives.
I recently read a newsletter* with a subject matter pertaining to a recurring thought of mine: “What if the fundamentalist materialists are wrong? What if every little thing you do subtly alters the course of history? What if your day-to-day decisions help determine how the human species navigates its way through the epic turning point that we’re now living through? And finally, what if you will be alive in a thousand years, reincarnated into a fresh body and in possession of at least some of the memories of the person you were in this era?”
Consider the thought that we are energetic beings continuously interfacing with the energy all around us, and that we hold a responsibility for the impact we have, however small it may feel to us. We have an impact on the collective energy pot and we should be mindful of the impact we want to create.
The author of the newsletter reminds us to “live as if your soul is eternal.”
These are significant thoughts to consider, to meditate upon, and to realize in our everyday lives. While my thoughts generally go as deep, wide, and beyond as all of the above, again, my current thoughts are even more mundane. Thinking globally, cosmically even, but acting locally.
A poignant recollection
During the AIDS epidemic, according to a news report I watched, many victims of this tragic disease had apparently released cash from all their various savings and investments, ready to enjoy the remaining time they had left to the maximum extent possible. Who could blame them? The unexpected problem some were then faced with was that the clever folks in white coats discovered treatments that were able to postpone their imminent mortality. These patients were given back a few more unexpected years of life, but now with no cash left. A new panic ensued to try to redress their more practical, bill-paying needs.
In learning about this all those years ago, I recall thinking about how, unless we’re being bullied into buying insurance and such, we are all being reminded and encouraged to live in the moment. Naturally, medical leaps forward in helping people live longer have been wonderful news for all involved, so my thoughts were no longer with them, but on a seperate tangent about how misconstrued, missdirected, and sometimes even irresponsible “living in the moment” can be. How would you live your life if you had to live with the consequences of your choices for so much longer?
More recently I had a passing conversation with a woman in a shop who asked me if I had noticed, like her, that so many around us seemed to be falling prey to terminal illnesses or dementia. While we agreed that there seems a staggering amount, I suggested that, mitigating circumstances aside, diet surely plays a significant factor and that, for the most part, many of us no longer eat “real” food. Her response was capped off with a cheeky grin: “But we all love a bit of chocolate. And we only live once. We’re all gonna die in the end!” I smiled. I like chocolate, too. So I dismounted my dietary high horse, agreed regarding the cacao, paid my bill, and left.
We will hear of someone’s passing and, if they made it past 80, are likely to agree that they lived to a ripe old age. Sadly, all too common is the likelihood they will have passed due to an illness that they struggled with for years. Sure, we’re all gonna transition beyond this mortal coil one day, but accepting some of these illnesses as normal is a strange thing to me.
Why is there such focus on band-aiding the symptoms of something that we’ve collectively accepted as standard, but only once it’s become an issue? For example, I’ve known people who’d rather risk imminent death than amend their diet. These meat-sack bodies of ours are extraordinary microcosms of the macrocosm, every moment recreating itself at the micro level. Cells renew, wounds heal, and at the subcellular level, at the subatomic level, we are . . . electric pulsating diaphanous swirls of energy . . . both instantaneously here and not here. Where our 4 per cent recognisable universe gives us the illusion of manifesting into form, dancing with itself, dancing with itself in unfathomable multiverses, in every conceivable dimension and beyond, all dancing on a point smaller than a needle in time, recreating itself every nanosecond. . . .
The quantum world seems to be a wondrous, magical place and we bumble blindly in our everyday gross-matter lives, utterly oblivious to what our own bodies are doing at that level. But I digress into that brain-melting, reality-defying, magical world and acknowledge that degradation of the body does happen in our perception of time, of course. And degradation of the mind often happens, too. Things don’t always go according to plan. And for some folks, the body simply does not play fair.
But in this discussion of linear time and our tango with it, it’s worth remembering that our bodies are designed to work with how we treat them and how we fuel them. What goes in as food affects our physical body, our mind, and our moods—it’s all connected. If, for example, you become aware of brain fog and poor memory, check your gut health. Is your brain producing sufficient acetylcholine? Take supplements. Add Gotu Kola and coconut fat to your diet as important brain foods. Ginkgo biloba to increase oxygen to the brain and elastify your vein walls. Eat less processed food and eat your greens—eat your broccoli instead. Don’t wait until things progress to the point of having to manage a health condition and bandaid its symptoms. Research and take back control of the reins to your own well-being before it’s too late! The University of Exeter recently conducted research on around 200,000 people, revealing that those who amended and lead healthy lifestyles resulted in dementia risk results falling by around a third, even when it ran in families.
So, I have a question for you: how would living so much longer impact your choices? Your romantic choices, your work choices, your impact on the world around you?
While I agree with adages such as “if not now, when?” or “don’t put off ‘til tomorrow lest it be too late,” and so on, the fact that we have to live a long time with the consequences of our choices I find to be a sobering thought and one that is more likely to pull me to immediate action.
Please humor me and let’s play: what if 80 years old was only middle age and 120+ years really was the standard for old age. My argument might sound like nothing but a hypothetical nice thought, a misreading of arcane texts, and all a bit silly, but let’s imagine anyway. The oft-cited standard life expectancy of 75–80 years suddenly seems so very young. If the actual average life expectancy were 120 years, it would give us a very long time to stay alive if we fall ill in our late 60s as a result of the poor choices we’ve made. Especially those choices based on the hedonism of “living in the present.” And what a tragedy that so many have been educated to feel boredom toward anything that is deemed a healthy lifestyle.
I’m not saying we are obligated to practice yoga, to only eat rabbit food, and to never enjoy a glass or two of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. In fact, feeling good about things actively boosts our immune system. But the implications of small but healthy amendments to our lifestyle choices can be enormous. Think about the implications of a single millimeter’s mistake on a draftsman’s plan . . . what more could you do with your life if it were suddenly twice as long as you currently expect it to be?
Indigenous peoples traditionally think in terms of several generations ahead, rather than our capitalistic approach of instant gratification and to hell with a future that we’re not even going to be around to benefit from. But what if we are here? Even if we’re now being driven by vanity and selfishness, self care and environmental care seem just a tad more appealing. Shouldn’t we care for our loved ones a little more so they may care for us in return? Plant more trees so we don’t run out of oxygen? Shouldn’t we create the life we really want? Not because we may run out of time and not because we want to live forever, but because we’ll simply be living with it for longer.
So with lifestyle tweaks made in the now, living until 120 may suddenly not be such a silly game after all. It’s all about empowering ourselves wisely in this Ever-present Now.
* Astro newsletter by Rob Brezsny