The Elusive Present Moment
After a quick first read through Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now--with at least two or three more rounds, highlighter in hand, planned across the next few weeks--it is hard to know where to begin in terms of my usual post-read reflective blog entry.
In a sense, the urgency I feel to write something smacks against the spirit of Tolle's intent: to help people become more fully present or conscious, to embrace the is-ness of the current moment instead of getting caught up in compulsive thinking, planning or fear about how things might turn out in the near or distant future. The fact that I feel the need to compose an insightful blog entry demonstrates the embryonic state of my own journey toward consciousness, I suppose. And maybe this confession is evidence of some progression.
The 1999 book, which I already know is as loved by the masses as it is scorned by them, has powerful implications for each of us and for every profession. It speaks to leaders or managers about how they might react to interpersonal difficulties or strategic conundrums. It offers a fresh angle for religious teachers seeking to make spiritual growth a more vibrant, holistic reality for their pupils rather than just intellectual ascension or task-driven legalism. It helps spouses, parents, siblings, friends, colleagues and strangers to more deeply surrender to the commonalities among each of us and gradually become less addicted to struggles for power, control and materialism.
I'm doing Tolle's body of work backwards. Last year I devoured his more recent book, A New Earth. I gave The Power of Now a shot after I'd read A New Earth, and found it a bit redundant so tossed it aside. After giving it another shot, I quickly learned I had made a hasty assumption. It's funny how during one season you're not ready or open enough for a particular book, challenge or relationship, and then new soil is cultivated and the timing is perfect.
I'd first heard of The Power of Now a few years ago, from a physician whom I was coaching in his executive role. At first I was skeptical as he quoted excerpts from the book; but across time I saw how he applied the principles to himself and began to carry a greater sense of peace and purpose in his work. Those around him responded accordingly, and it is always encouraging to catch up on the phone with my former coachee and hear of his ongoing ability to fully embrace the present moment, good or bad.
Accept Tolle or label him as you might, it's hard to deny one crucial observation of the human condition: We are basically inept when it comes to fully leveraging the present moment. So much of our thinking is composed of either ruminations about what has happened in the past, or hope/dread toward what might occur. To "be still" or to cherish what is right in front of us, is a rare behavior. Look around, and see how few are doing it. Look inside yourself, and make an honest assessment of how much you are surrendering to the possibilities of this very moment, a moment for which--intentionally or not--you have toiled all of your life to achieve.