How do you perceive the present moment? You can sometimes see in the present moment both the fading of the world that came before and the new life that will take its place emerging.
Do you live in the past? Is your head always dreaming of, plotting for, or even just plain dreading the future? Do you believe that the present moment is all there is?
There is no right or wrong answer to any of the above questions. Just as there is no right or wrong way to perceive the passage of time. Living in the past, living for the moment or living for the future. Each is a personal preference. Each is (arguably) an equally valid way to approach what it is to be alive, at least in terms of how you approach it within the confines of your own mind.
Of late, I have been thinking a lot about change and transformation (see, for example, my previous post, Transitions). About how each moment is part of an endless chain. How each moment is both the child of what has come before it and the expectant parent of what is yet to be.
However you perceive the present moment, there is no question that time is numbered for this moment, that it will soon give way to the next.
Not always, but sometimes, the present moment can be rich with signs of both what has come before and what is to arrive next. At such moments, you can see the world that came before fading away or dying off, to make way for the new life that is emerging.
Seems like years since it’s been clear
Spring 2023 has been unusually slow to get underway, at least here in south-east England. Or perhaps the changing of the guard from winter to spring is always this slow, this tentative?
This past week has felt like a time of transition. The seasons slowly changing. But winter – even on its way out – is doing all it can to hold on for as long as it can.
Nights as cold as winter. By day, mild and tepid spring sunshine that almost feels like a tropical treat after so protracted, so cold and so damp a winter. George Harrison was onto something when he sang “Little darlin’, I feel that ice is slowly melting/ Little darlin’, it seems like years since it’s been here” (in Here Comes the Sun, as if you need me to tell you that).
But as reluctant as winter, the old order, might be in loosening its grip, there is no question that spring will win through.
These past few days have been rich with signs that spring is gradually returning to this corner of the world.
My early morning walk on Wednesday 5 April 2023. Beautiful tones of colour unfurl slowly across the sky of this freezing cold early spring morning.
A little later that day, in a forest park near my home. Moss and dead bark, new buds sprouting forth, new life emerging. All present at the same time, in the same moment.
Back home, my own little investment in the future, in the knowledge that brighter, warmer days are just around the corner. My mini greenhouse finally restored to some kind of order, I finally had the opportunity to sow the first seeds for my 2023 vegetable crop. Better still, I was also able to sow sunflower seeds for the first time in my life.
The sunflower seeds I sowed this week were a thoughtful birthday gift from my lovely friend Liz Kentish, on the occasion of my turning 50 last month. This gift was inspired by a Twitter exchange that Liz remembered from last year. Reacting to a picture of a spectacular sunflower she had grown, I told Liz that I’d somehow never in all my years grown a sunflower. She responded with the suggestion that we have a 2023 sunflower growing competition!
Cut to March 2023. Liz not only remembered the suggested 2023 sunflower-off, but she went one better in making sure that it will happen. At the lunch in London to mark my birthday in March, Liz generously gifted me a seeming mountain of sunflower seed packets, suggesting I hand them out to everyone at the lunch. This is such a warm-hearted idea. It was my delight and my privilege to be able to give sunflower seeds to all attending that day, and to invite them to join me and Liz in this sunflower growing challenge.
In Liz’s gift was a joyful and generous seed of inspiration, to bring a little moment of joy and colour to the lives of so many people.
In each of those sunflower seeds is the promise of joy and colour, to be unlocked by the sun. The promise of new life emerging.
In each of those sunflowers yet to grow, there will be the seeds of the following year’s sunflowers. New life that will emerge.
No matter how you perceive the present moment, what can you do today to make this moment and the next that little bit better?
May you be nothing but kind today, to others and to yourself.
May today be nothing but kind to you and yours.
- All photographs by MJCarty, with the exception of the final two, which are…
- Sunflower by Mark Johnstone via Wikimedia Commons; and
- Sunflower in Canada12 via Wikimedia Commons.