Monday, May 30, 2011

No Day But Today

It’s a terrible feeling realizing that your body has a breaking point. It’s scary and weird and overall just not a very fun experience. Today I went out on a run. I run often, and often run (aha!) long distances. Today I was going to keep it simple with about 3 miles minimum, it was a bit hot and the path I chose had little shade. I was roughly half way through and all of a sudden my body just stopped. It stopped functioning. I began to walk immediately, I felt light headed, nauseated, and overwhelmingly exhausted. I could have laid down in the middle of the path and fallen asleep. At first I assumed it was a temporary set back, but as I continued to walk I began to feel worse. I leaned up against a tree, closed my eyes and just tried to breathe. My entire body was shaking and not only from this weird exhaustion but fear. My body had never done this to me before. It had never just given out on me. I mean we all have our problems. I have bad knees, some people have bad shoulders, but this was different. My entire body was in this state of complete dissonance. Even though I had only run a mile and a half maximum, I felt as though I had just finished running ten miles at full speed.

I don’t know if it was dehydration, the heat, hunger, or exhaustion that caused my body to freak out, but regardless it was easily one of the most frightening experiences of my life.

The fear not only was for my body but also for my lack of control over my body. I wasn’t telling it to do this, it wasn’t conscious and there was no inkling that it would occur, but it did. Part of my panic was the fact that I lost control of the only thing I can really control in this world. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to lose control of my body permanently, to be paralyzed or be confined to a bed with a disease that I couldn’t control. This got me really thinking about life, my life in particular, and wondering if what I was doing was really living life to the fullest. What if I died 5 minutes from now in some freak Panera-related incident? Would I die happy and satisfied with life? Or would I go out kicking and screaming; begging for more time?

In Buddhism we are taught to relinquish worldly desires to achieve enlightenment and to focus on the “inner light”, to respect your body and others, to treat people with compassion, and to live a content life. If I truly was content in life I should be able to die any day and die feeling accomplished and content. The fact that I plan so much into the future is probably a very poor reflection on the type of person I am.

I consistently look towards tomorrow, and rarely do I focus on today. I never just sit back and marvel at all the beauty the world has to offer. Even in meditation it is so hard to just be in the present because life seems to press in from all corners. Life seems to want to rush us forward and we as human beings seem to want to go faster, bigger, better, stronger, and we try to understand the world by becoming greater.

This quest to understand the bigger picture by growing more great and consuming seems detrimental, and as I write this a quote by Buddha comes to mind:

“If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change”

I am going to start looking for the miracle in the flowers, in the wind, and in people’s laughter. There is no promise of tomorrow, only of this moment. This very moment is the only promise, and I need to live it. This moment encapsulates all that is beautiful about life, and yet I brush moments away, they fade with time, and in the end I am even more clueless and wanting than before…Today is gift and tomorrow doesn’t truly even exist. Today life is beautiful. Every moment life is beautiful.

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