Trying again on the most important things I have learned about life, I hold returning to a central paradox of our tradition: We all know that the flower doesn’t go from bud to blossom in a single spritely burst, but we crave tales of in a single day success and spontaneous self-actualization, disinterested in the tedium of the blossoming, in the incremental ripening by which we turn out to be who we’re, the innumerable tiny selections, the imperceptibly small steps by which we pave the path to our personal future in the very act of strolling it. We’re every a steady turning into, our future a rosary of presents strung alongside the strand of presence — presence with the smallest corpuscles of existence: the odor of a neighbor’s curry slipping by way of the window cracked in midwinter, the atlas of wrinkles on the palms of the cashier scanning the field of strawberries at the grocery retailer. Sensing, noticing — the uncooked supplies of presence, and thus the elemental stardust of our turning into. Emerson knew this when he mirrored on how to live with presence and authenticity in a culture of busyness and surfaces a century and a half earlier than the Age of Haste:
Life goes headlong… Now pause, now possession is required, and the energy to swell the second from the sources of our personal coronary heart till it supersedes solar & moon & photo voltaic system in its increasing immensity.
That’s what creator Julia Denos and illustrator E.B. Goodale invite in Here and Now (public library) — a variety of illustrated guided meditation, tender and soulful, and a splendid belated addition to the loveliest children’s books of 2019.
The ebook begins the place all presence should at all times start — precisely the place we’re: The reader is invited to attend to the actuality of studying — the sensorial meta-reality of being with the ebook. Presence then radiates outward in widening circles of consciousness — the ground below the ft, the grass and soil below the ground, the earthworms and fossils in the the hidden universe of the underland.
We’re reminded that the Earth is spinning in the huge expanse of spacetime, and so are we, together with it; that in every now we expertise right here, numerous issues are occurring in numerous elsewheres — “rain is forming in the stomach of a cloud,” “an ant has completed its dwelling on the different facet of the planet,” “an thought is blooming,” “grass is pushing up by way of cement,” “unseen work is being carried out.”
What emerges is a delicate reminder that we snatch our freeze-frame of life from the simultaneity of existence. “Proper right here, proper now, YOU have gotten,” Denos writes.
In a postscript, Denos explains that the ebook grew out of a poem she had written as half of her meditation observe — a variety of lyric breathwork. Two millennia after Seneca provided his Stoic’s key to living with presence and a technology after Wendell Berry started his formula for how to be a poet and a complete human being with “Make a place to sit down. Sit down. Be quiet,” she writes:
Meditation is simply one other method of noticing and a little bit like magic. It brings us, simply as we’re, into the current second, simply as it’s. This freedom is a place I name “Right here and Now.” It’s a land well-known by younger kids and crops and animals; it’s a place and chance root, a place the place we really feel linked to the larger unfolding story. Generally, when our minds and our bodies are busy, we neglect how to get again. However all we’d like to do to return once more is to discover the world round us. We don’t want to sit down, or cease what we’re doing. We don’t even want to shut our eyes. Let’s open our senses as a substitute.
Complement Here and Now with Be Still, Life — a kindred-spirited songlike illustrated invitation to dwelling with presence — and Sidewalk Flowers — a picture-book serenade to the artwork of noticing — then revisit Annie Dillard’s timeless clarion name for choosing presence over productivity, Hermann Hesse on breaking the trance of busyness by learning to savor the little joys, and poet Ross Homosexual’s yearlong experiment in training the delight muscle.