Now is the time.
Today is the day.
Both of these statements are always true, but they resonate more distinctly when iterated. Here’s how these statements are ringing true for yours truly as of late.
On a walk back to my office from the library, a walk I take often because I delight at putting books on hold at the library and having an excuse to go on a 20-minute, round-trip walk after lunch (Scholastic Book Fair flashbacks!), I had a realization. A realization I’ve had before, but this time it hit home amid a perfect intersection of circumstances. I’d picked up a book called “Loving What You Know” by Byron Katie. I’d seen insightful quotes from her on the internet and was compelled at some point to browse the South Central Wisconsin Library System’s impressive holdings for her work.
I was drawn to “Loving What You Know” because of the title. Confession: I struggle a lot. Not so much because there are real, true obstacles in my life, but because I grew up struggling and that is what my mind and body know and do instinctively. (I’ve been working on that.) Luckily, about 10 years ago, I was lent Mark Epstein’s “Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart” by my half Hungarian, part-time dominatrix Brooklyn hipster roommate. She stiffed me $50 on the security deposit when I moved out, so I guess we’re even. This book began my love affair with Buddhist and metaphysical self-help/self-knowledge/personal growth literature. In “Going to Pieces,” Epstein intertwines elements of Buddhism and psychoanalysis to create a super coherent framework for accepting your feelings and even learning to chill out with the difficult ones. (No small task. I’m just now getting pretty cool with it all.) It was pretty revolutionary for farm girl living in New York City with 10 years of substance abuse and eating disorders under her belt (recovery is bitchin’). Around the same time, I’d read been reading another borrowed book, D.T. Suzuki’s “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind.” It’s so simply and beautifully written that I can remember initially pondering its key tenets to this day. At one point, Suzuki Roshi explains how suffering stems from our own disappointment that our desires are not fulfilled by reality. We create an alternate reality that we want to be true and then are constantly upset that what we imagine is not real. This is ongoing cycle — — that we totally can control — — makes us unhappy.
So I’m walking back into my office building on a warm, yet overcast, winter day, after having scanned the back-cover blurbs about “Love What You Know.” It strikes me that this book carries a sentiment similar to that memorable passage from D.T. Suzuki. And I muse over how long it takes one to learn, know and feel something that’s contrary to your thoughts and habits. How many times a message can be heard different ways before it sinks in that right way that makes it click, almost locking into place. And that everyone who’s conveying a version of this message message is adding to the effort to bring this truth, whatever it may be, to others. Their skill isn’t as important as their intent because different phrases and experiences reach each of us in different ways.
I climb the four flights of stairs to my office, open my personal email and see the second newsletter from a friend who’s on yet another trip to India for work, this time helping create a digital system that aids farmers in marketing their produce. I thoroughly enjoy a quick, yet thoughtful, immersion into his experience and write him a brief note to tell him so. He quickly replies that he decided to create the newsletter, not only to keep in touch with loved ones, but for writing practice because he aspires to do more of it (me too!). And that I should give it a shot.
For much of my life, I’ve pushed away lofty, yet deep and meaningful, aspirations for one reason or another — they didn’t fall within my realm of experience, I wasn’t talented enough, I wouldn’t make enough money following a certain dream, etc. I bet I’m not the only one. But I’m tired of it. I’ve done a lot, been through a lot and I care. I’m not particularly special — we all have wisdom to share. What it comes down to is nothing’s about “me.” Everything is about “us,” humans, animals, microbes, plants, etc. We’re in this world together without even meaning to be. So why not make the best of it and help each other out? We never know how much impact we can have by just being ourselves.
So here goes to being one of the growing number of people sharing my truth in hopes it can be of some use to others. Thanks for coming along for the ride. Now is the time. Today is the day.
Here’s the song I get in my head after hearing the phrase “Now is the time.”
Now is the time to invent.