I was tempted to include the video, below, as a coda to my opening post because its themes align so nicely with those that drove me to finally publish on Monday, but I decided it was more important to let my words stand alone at the outset.
This excerpt from Sam Harris’ speech to the 2012 Global Atheist Convention, which has been expertly synthesized with background music and images by YouTube user AJ Salas, touches on a poignant, but less obvious, aspect of living “against the grain” — being present in the here and now.
All too frequently we find ourselves at the effect of our own lives, our minds and bodies tossed about, seemingly at the whim of an invisible master. We skip breakfast, race to the train, check and reply to email, regret that last slice of pizza, watch another re-run, slog through clutter we create, and worry about an unknowable future over which we have precious little control. And all the while we complain that there’s not enough time in the day … to publish our blogs, or cook our own meals, or get to the gym, or read to our kids.
I think Harris is onto something important when he talks about consciousness and presence in the moment, but I want to know what you think. How important is the present moment in the grand scheme of things? Does Harris give short shrift to learning from the past or planning for a secure future? Or is his philosophy of now worth embracing, in at least some small way, in your own life?
Background: Sam Harris is among a select group of public thinkers who have inspired me and substantially shaped my views in recent years. He stakes out controversial but well-researched positions (on religion, free will, drugs, guns, etc.) that some deem offensive and he regularly draws the ire of just about anyone who feels threatened by views discordant with common “wisdom.” Naturally, this attracts my contrarian side, but it is Harris’ courage and thoughtfulness about his arguments that I most admire.