To Be Present

During this morning’s walk, I noticed five baby lambs leaping across the field chasing after one another. Usually, when I see something as natural as this, I would simply walk on - but this morning, I sat down with a smile on my face and watched the baby lambs play. I could see from the expression on their faces how joyful they were - each lamb so utterly content in the present moment. The lamb's mothers were also present - just standing there, still and quiet, eating grass. For a brief moment, I experienced what it felt like to be fully present. Any past and future thoughts I may have been clutching onto disappeared - I had entered a state of non-thinking. I was just sitting, doing nothing - a state of non-being that is referred to as zazen in Japan. My ears began to profit from the soothing notes of a bird's song and I started to feel the blades of grass between my fingers, really feel them. The trees around me appeared greener, the sky was much bluer than usual, the sun was aglow and the clouds had shaped themselves into what I can only describe as a message from the Gods: the symbol of a love heart. I know the message was a reminder to love more, because love is life and life is love, and without one or the other, neither would survive. At this moment, everything made sense - life became crystal clear. I was present.

If you’re struggling to be present, think of the lion. Do you think the lion has trouble living in the present? No, of course not. If the lion thinks of tomorrow, his today is at risk - he may fall prey to nature's merciless elements and he, the hunter, will soon become the hunted. There is no other option for the lion but to live presently - moment to moment. The lion does not reflect on yesterday’s events either - he does not boast to his pride about how smoothly he took down that buffalo yesterday. In the wild, it is dangerous to have an ego; ego will get you killed. To the lion, today’s survival is all that matters. Step by step, kill by kill. If the lion was to reflect on yesterday or speculate on tomorrow, not only would he put himself in grave danger but his cubs and whole pride, too. If the lion does not live in the present, the whole species of the lion would soon become extinct. For the lion, tomorrow’s survival depends on today’s efforts.

We often need to be brought back otherwise we will never move forward.

Having walked much in the presence of sheep over the last few weeks, these white fluffy animals have taught me many lessons. The biggest lesson I have learned from sheep is that it takes very little to live presently. They are so happy with who they are and what they are doing. We can learn a great deal from animals if we allow ourselves the time for stillness and silence in their company.

Thanks for reading.