Greenleaf writes: A central attitude for him who believes it his duty to remake the world and bring it more in accord with virtue and justice, with his own heart, is, ‘This is the day!’ So many able people I have known have nullified their effectiveness by living in a past that will never return or in a visionary future that may never materialize, and the opportunity to be grasped here and now slips by them…
There are moments that contain eternity. Try to see the moment ‘now’ not as an instantaneous fraction of clock time but as a focus of intensity in which the bright intense center ‘is’ this instant of clock time but which, as the intensity of the light recedes from the center, extends back into historic events and forward into the indefinite future – a sort of moving average…
Even if the present center of this span of time carries for you illness, suffering, and loss, this is the day. It is what you have now!
I love these three passages. I remember the first time I read them – 1978; I recall that I put the essay down and reflected upon these passages – they still give me pause. Do I hold a ‘a central attitude’ regarding my ‘duty’ to help ‘remake’ the world ‘in accord with virtue and justice’? Do I hold a ‘central attitude’ about anything? If so, what? If I do hold a ‘central attitude’ what do I choose to then enact?
Greenleaf reminds me that ‘This is the day!’ There is no other day. How often do I neglect ‘this day’ and ruminate about the past or spend time imaging the future? To what extent do I believe that my ‘effectiveness’ is directly related to how much time I spend in the ‘now’ rather than ruminating about the past or imaging the future? How many ‘now’ opportunities have I missed? What is the opportunity ‘now’ – sitting right here as I put finger to key? Right now am I holding an attitude that as I put finger to key I am helping to ‘remake’ my world, if not ‘the’ world?
Do I ‘see’ and ‘experience’ this ‘now’ with a focused intensity? This is the opportunity! This is MY opportunity! Because I took the time in 1978 to stop and reflect I now have the opportunity today. Because I have stopped at other times during these past decades and reflected upon this passage I am more aware of the opportunity ‘now.’
Greenleaf concludes this passage with another idea – no matter what, ‘This is the day!’ This is, truly, what I have now! So. . . How will I choose to spend this ‘now’? I now have an image of Clint Eastwood glaring down at me and I can hear him asking me: ‘Well, punk, what are you going to do with your day today?’
Tomorrow is promised to no one. –Clint Eastwood