Are You Here?

When a baby is fed, is not cold and feels somehow protected, the baby is happy, at peace, it does not need anything else. 
But us, the adults, even when we feel that way, we are not at peace. 
We are not at peace because we can think, which means we can go into the future and realize that even if we feel good now, any second anything could happen, and so we feel we need to prepare for whatever it is that may happen. And that is how the mind feels free to always be lost in thought, in worries, in anxieties, in what is going to come, in the possibilities, in the hopes, in the fears…

Just a few moments ago, as I was walking on the street, a person rushed by me, and I could see in her face that she was ‘not there’. Of course I have no idea what was happening in that moment with that person, maybe she was rushing to the hospital, or to an important meeting, or whatever. But the truth is that most of the time we are not in a hurry for something truly important, but we are in a hurry only to get to the next moment because we don’t feel comfortable and at peace with this one. 
And when we are in hurry, we are ‘not here’. 
Yes, the body is here, but the mind, the thoughts, the person inside that body is ‘not here’ but is somewhere else, in the next moment, in the next activity, in the next idea, place, situation. 
This ‘not being here’ is not so easy to describe. If I mention to somebody else that a person is ‘not there’, the response may be something like: ‘What do you mean? Of course she is there, where else can she be? Can’t you see her?’ 
But it is clear to me that most people, most of the time, are ‘not there’. Yes, the body is there, but it is like the body is empty, the person is somewhere else.

If this ‘not being here’ happened once in a while, it would be OK. But it is not like that; we spend hours, days, weeks, months, years! in that state of ‘not being here’, except for brief moments when everything comes together in a perfect way… perfect weather, perfect people, perfect food, perfect situation, perfect moment…
But we cannot depend on this because it does not happen very often, and even when it does happen, it does not completely depend on our efforts, it is more like the whole universe comes together to give us that sweet, perfect moment. 
And because we cannot depend on those perfect moments, we need to learn to be more often ‘here’, independent of circumstances. 

‘Here’ is the most important place in our life; ‘now’ is the most important time of our life. 
What is truly our life? 
We can think of our life as being our family, our house, our job, what we are good at, what we do, where we have been, etc.  But notice that right now, all these things are nothing but memories, ideas in the mind

Our life, truly, is the experience of this moment right now… this now… now! And we are always experiencing it, except that most of the time we are not there to notice it.
Right now, stop for a moment and notice the moment, as it is. Don’t think about it…
This is your life! 


Most of us reading this note have amazing lives. Of course, we don’t have everything we want; we can always have more and we always want more. But even so, we have more than most people ever had in the whole history of human kind. But are we at peace? 
Really, we should ask ourselves: we have so much, why are we not at peace? 
Do you really think that if you get another house you are going to be at peace? Do you really think that if you get a bigger car you are going to be at peace? Do you really think that your peace is in the next relationship, in the next job?
Yes, when you get those things you may be happy for a short while, 3 months, a year… and then, the level of happiness will go back down to exactly where it was before you got the house, the car, the job or the relationship. It’s called hedonic adaptation*. 

Happiness, well-being, peace is not in what is going to come. 
Of course I am not saying you should not seek whatever you need. You may need to move, buy a new car, find a new career or get away from a bad relationship. Of course you need to keep changing, improving and evolving, but also, you need to discover that peace is not going to be there.

Deal with your problems, do what needs to be done, but don’t forget to stop, to return to the moment, and to find your life – right here, right now. 
It may take some time, it may take some deeper understanding, but sooner or later we need to realize that, independent of what is going on outside in the world or inside our heads, the peace we are looking for can only be found in this moment right now. 

*Here’s a quote from a wonderful book called A Guide to the Good Life by William Irvine, about this idea of „hedonic adaptation”:
“…to illustrate the adaptation process, scientist point to studies of lottery winners. Winning a lottery typically allows someone to live the life of his dreams. It turns out, though, that after the initial period of exhilaration, lottery winners end up about as happy as they previously were. They start taking their new Ferrari and mansion for granted, the way they previously took their rusted-out pickup and cramped apartment for granted.
Another less dramatic form of hedonic adaptation takes place when we make a consumer purchase. Initially, we delight in the wide-screen television or fine leather handbag we bought. After a time, though, we come to despise them and find ourselves longing for an even wider-screen television or an even more extravagant handbag. Likewise, we experience hedonic adaptation in our career. We might once have dreamed of getting a certain job. We might consequently have worked hard in college and maybe graduate school as well to get on the proper career path, and on that path, we might have spent years making slow but steady progress toward our career goal. On finally landing the job of our dreams, we will be delighted, but before long we are likely to grow dissatisfied. We will grumble about our pay, or our coworkers, or the failure of our boss to recognize our talents…
As a result of the adaptation process, people find themselves on a satisfaction treadmill. They are unhappy when they detect an unfulfilled desire within them. They work hard to fulfill this desire, in the belief that fulfilling it, they will gain satisfaction. The problem, though, is that once they fulfill a desire for something, they adapt to its presence in their life and as a result stop desiring it—or at any rate, don’t find it as desirable as they once did. They end up just as dissatisfied as they were before fulfilling the desire.”

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