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Friday, June 12, 2015

Here & Now

Copyright © 2014 Nancy Barra "Jan in the here and now", Rockport, Massachusetts.
When she saw him so peacefully resting on the rocks by the ocean, she asked to herself: "is he thinking, remembering, dreaming or just being one with the rock, the wind, the sun and the ocean?"

Many wise people tell us to live in "the here and now". They invite us to dismiss the past because it cannot be altered. To live in the "here and now" is to focus our total mind and heart on the very moment we are living. 

It means that whatever we do, we should execute it with absolute mindfulness. To live in the moment is to quiet our mind of all the lateral thoughts that come to us, which prevent us from concentrating on what we are experiencing or doing. According to the sages, that would be "real time", when we feel one with the universe and peace and bliss takes over us. We then experience Nirvana.

Copyright © 2014
But she thought: "Can we really grasp "the here and now" when it can become instantly a "past" event? What is the past but a recollection of accumulated  "here and now” moments? Even our vision of the future becomes instantly stored in the past and we need to retrieve them to be able to keep our visions refreshed in the “here and now” .

Copyright © 2011 Nancy Barra "Loreto in the moment", egg tempera on wood panel, 10" x 8" fromNancy BarraContemporary Art/Arte Contemporáneo 

"Time is so elusive!" –she thought. "The arrow of time tells me that nothing can be changed in the past and that the future is just an invention of the mind and our own need to transcend. The present changes so quickly than we can never grasp it. Then, what concept of "time" are we talking about?" –she asked.

Copyright © 2010 Vladimir Kush, "The arrow of time".

The more she thought about time, the more she vividly remembered that day when she went to the river. "How can we precisely determine the present, past and future of water running incessantly?" –she asked herself. She knew that with our "sensory body suit", we can just place our feet in the water and feel its movement, energy, temperature and texture. We can also smell the water and hear its noise flowing around our feet. We can even taste the water with our hands.

Copyright © 2015 Nancy Barra "Feet in motion", Pastel over watercolor on Arches paper,12"x16",from:Nancy BarraContemporary Art/Arte Contemporáneo 

"What is the only thing we can know for sure?" –she asked. "The beauty of this unique experience! YES! It stays imprinted in our memories. Like in a time machine, we can always be able to close our eyes, focus, recall and even re-live this experience over and over again in the un-graspable present!" –she said like she just had discovered something unique and important.

She always thought that "Time is much more than an arrow, pointing in one direction". She had the intuition that time was an instantaneous phenomenon perceived by our five body senses as a stretched time experience. "In this sense, the limitation set up by our human physiology makes us experience life in very slow motion, with a fictional beginning, middle and end" –she whispered to the wind.

Copyright © 2011 

"Perhaps, all this was intended as a gift so we could savor life intensively and slowly or perhaps it was intended to be just ... a joke" –she said smiling.

Copyright © 2015, Nancy Barra, "Past in the present",
 pastel 12" x 15.3/4" on La Carte Paper, from:
Nancy BarraContemporary Art/Arte Contemporáneo 

She remembered the epitaph of José Echeverría, 
a Chilean philosopher, 
placed on his tumb 
in Puerto Rico: 

"In death I do not die, it is time that dies in me."

She continued: "If the "here and now" is the way, how about our memories and dreams"?  

Copyright © 2011 Nancy Barra, "Oceanic reflection", Rockport, MA.
She had already heard that  these are a waste of energy because the events from the past are gone and unchangeable and the visions of the future are only ideas in the present, which give us only the illusion that we control the arrow of time. "I am not so sure about this" –she said.

"For example, if we close our eyes and concentrate enough, we can recall and re-live beautiful experiences of our childhood and adolescence, which can energize us by remembering again what made us truly happy in the past" –she said with her eyes closed, remembering that day when she walked in the plains of Guyana. 

Copyright © 2011 Anonymous, "Walk in Guyana."

"Conversely, we can also remember and re-live painful and traumatic experiences of the past, which can also have a powerful healing effect on us. Those experiences can reveal that we are true survivors, which can empower us to face new challenges in the present. Or, we can realize that we still have those knots in our psyche and therefore, we need to unlock them so our emotional energy can freely flow in the present" –she said, looking at the ocean on a winter day.

Copyright © 2011 Nancy Barra, "Rockport Remembrance", Rockport, Massachusetts.

"When we, as adults, remember and relive our shortcomings or bad experiences of the past, we also have the option to forgive ourselves and others. In doing this, we can eradicate guilt and resentment from our present lives" –she reflected. 

"We can also learn from our past how not to repeat the same mistakes in the "here and now"and all this could be liberating!" –she said.  

Copyright © 2015, Nancy Barra "Facing the future now12" x 15.3/4", Pastel from: Nancy BarraContemporary Art/Arte 

"And what about the future?...."

"Without our visions of the future, there would be no poetry, art or utopias! ...and how could we live without them?" –she thought looking at the ocean.
With this hopeful reflection, she thought that we might find our common thread to a peaceful way of being in the "here and now". Perhaps, some would say she was extremely naive. However, she realized that many young people are already discovering "their connection" and common dreams by sharing their arrow-of-time experiences with others, face-to-face and digitally all over the planet. It is the beginning of a powerful change event. 

Copyright ©2015 Nancy Barra, "The ever changing Elqui river",Chile.

"Maybe creativity will enlighten all of us and we will find a way–she said. 

While looking at the water running wild in the river, she felt that this process was happening right now or perhaps it will happen tomorrow or maybe it has already begun, but the only truth about time is that change is and always will be the norm. Then, she remembered what Heraclitus said in Greece many, many centuries ago about time and the human experience, which still continues to be valid for the "here and now"of today:

"No being ever steps in the same river twice. For it is not the same river, and it is not the same being.
There is nothing permanent except change".
– Heraclitus