Just a Second

Photo: Newness 1

What do you see? It’s not a trick question, only an invitation to look for the small and temporary delights right at hand. Newness and beauty are present all around us.

For all that we think of lives as finite and fleeting and time, constantly racing by, I don’t think we take it so seriously when we tell someone who’s waiting for us, “just a second.” After all, so much can happen in a second or less, yes, evening in a millisecond, as we can now measure it. Races are won and lost by the tiniest increments of time. On one side of the little mark signifying a clock’s second-long increments is the Now, and before the very thought of it is completed, Now already resides on the other side of the mark.

Photo: Newness 2

Dead stems of the past give birth to lively leaflets for the season to come…

No matter how protracted the process leading up to it, one nanosecond is the last one I will spend alive, and the next one will be the first one in which I’m dead. The thought has no moral value one way or another, and not much emotional value either, since as soon as it is likely to seem fully important to me in the most urgent of terms, it’ll be all done.

The only real value for me, in practical terms, is if I invest enough thought in this very moment of being still alive to commit to being wide awake as well: deeply present, and grateful for all of the good that is in my life at every piece of time I’m granted along the way. Whether it’s thanks to honoring spiritual values in the practice of mindfulness or it’s because I’m keenly aware of those lives that, however brightly they’ve burned, were far too short, it matters little unless I take advantage of the perspective these afford me and live my own life more richly because of it. Regardless of how I choose to spend this magnificent currency of breath and sentience and health and hope, even if it’s on sitting on a park bench and holding hands with my beloved (one of the highest and best things I know how to do, to be sure), making a conscious and committed choice is well worth the effort, and following through, all the better.

Just now, the value of mindful living in the present is particularly lovely because we are on the cusp of spring here in north Texas. And if you’ve read even a few of my locale-related posts, you can appreciate just how fleeting and tenuous is the very idea of springtime and how ephemeral its joys. I would be a fool to be so encumbered by longing for things past or worrying about things yet to come that I don’t pause, however briefly, to savor the wonder of what these treasured nano-joys can bring to my existence.

Photo: Newness 3

Out of death, life. The cheery pumpkins and gourds brightening the fading allure of the autumn garden have in turn rotted, dried, and decayed—but from their secretive hearts, the burst of seed and greenery returns to begin it all again…

12 thoughts on “Just a Second

  1. This is so lovely, I love it! especially the life from death of the rotten veggies and dead stems! I am an avid gardener and am always amazed in the early spring here in Maine at the life poking its head out of the snow! Life is unbeatable!!

    • As Michael Crichton reminded us in Jurassic Park, ‘life finds a way’—one of the few seemingly incontrovertible truths in our messy existence, and to my mind, one of the most beautiful of them. 😀 I’m more avid than skilled in the garden, so it’s especially comforting that things grow and thrive whether I ‘get it right’ out there or not. 😉

  2. Such an uplifting post. Like the phoenix, life comes from death. Well, I feel it never left, just hibernating. Love the pumpkin photo.

    • There does seem to be some truth to the idea that death is only a different kind of sleep. Carbon-to-carbon transmutation. I look forward, myself, to being iris food eventually. Just not too soon! 😉

  3. Okay, this may be a little bit odd, but follow me for a second. (get it?)

    I’ve recently been watching the PBR that is being telecast on one of my local stations. That’s Professional Bull Riding for those non-Texas folks. I have a particular affinity for cowboys, anyway, and a great deal of admiration for the guys that are daring enough to try to stay on a bucking bull that weighs as much as a car, even if only for a mere eight seconds. Those milliseconds you speak of can make all the difference between first place and tenth place, and those tiny micro portions of time become substantially important when competing for a million dollar prize, and for the title of best bull rider on the PBR circuit. I’ve seen one-hundredths of a second be the determining factor between who wins, and who loses.

    These guys live in a world where it’s just them, and the bull, and the clock. Everything else fades away, and it’s about staying on top of that bull for the full eight seconds. We think eight seconds is gone in the blink of an eye, but for a bull rider, eight seconds can be an eternity. I’m not usually one for watching any sports on TV, but I have to admit, the PBR has caught my attention, if for no other reason than because of the subtle nuances of the sport. It’s not just about hanging on for eight seconds. The cowboys are athletes (of a different kind). The bulls are athletes (of a different kind). Even the arena clowns are athletes (of a different kind). And it all comes down to that eight second ride, and whether or not you can squeeze one more one hundredth of a second out of that clock. These guys really and truly live in the present moment.

    • No kidding. I find the visceral immediacy and intense, concentrated commitment on both the people’s and the animals’ parts intensely interesting, too. Last time I got to go to the rodeo was the Canadian Nationals in Edmonton, a tremendously fun outing with my Edmonton photo-expedition friend; his wife was one of the leading altos in Richard’s choir up there, so when we were in town during rehearsals, Mark and I would go during their long rehearsal workdays and have photo adventures, and then we’d all meet for dinner.

      Mark was Pecos-born, so he had the heart of a Texan and was thus the perfect friend with whom to enjoy the rodeo! I loved the accompanying stock judging and auctions just as much, ogling the prizewinning animals and watching all of the ranch owners and stock raisers get into *their* most competitive and focused modes as well! Mental athleticism, I suppose, of a similar strain. 🙂

  4. Ah lovely Kathrine; thoughts and reflections right up my street as the saying goes. I have never lived more in the moment than I do now, and never appreciated the new life of spring as much. I have, I like to think, always appreciated these things but the intensity has increased a hundredfold. Every moment matters 😊 xxx

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