This I Believe


by Chuck Ivy - Part 2

I believe in now. As in here and now. As in today, this minute.  Not yesterday. Not tomorrow. Not some other place or some other time. But right here, right now.

It is hard to pinpoint exactly when Ellen and I started our focus on now, but it was shortly after my brain surgery about a dozen years ago. I’d had a seizure, gone to the emergency room, had x-rays and other tests. After hours at the hospital, I was given a diagnosis:  primary lung cancer and secondary brain cancer. After a lot of tearful hugs from the emergency room doctor and several nurses, I went home to put my affairs in order. Four days later, we learned that the diagnosis had been wrong, and after nine and one-half hours of surgery, I was a new man. No cancer, one very large but benign brain tumor removed, and one ugly scar added to my scalp.

Our focus shifted gradually to the now as, I think, we both accepted mortality. A few months after my surgery, we bought a large wooden sign, with the words, “This is the Day.” Later we bought a Pablo Neruda poster which says in Spanish, “Today is today. Yesterday is gone. There is no doubt.” These reminders hang at opposite ends of our house.  Later, we spent time at a place where we were awakened every day by a voice saying, “yesterday is then, tomorrow is when, this day is now.” And, in further manifestation of our obsession, we have the words “Be Here” on our refrigerator and regularly taunt our granddaughters when they ask what time it is by answering “the time is now.”

I do believe in looking ahead to plan and prepare for the future, but I try to avoid the corrosive effects of worry about future events or wishing for this or that. Control what you can, plan for the rest, but live in the now. I also believe in looking back to learn lessons from mistakes or successes, repair any damage, and generally tie up loose ends. Looking back can be a useful way to see where you have been and to know where you are going. But try to avoid the destructive effect of regret.

I do not argue that enjoyment is everything or that accomplishment or achievement are minor. I simply believe that we should not sacrifice the present, regretting the past or hoping for a better tomorrow.

There may be another life, in one form or another, after this one, and we may choose to accept that prospect on faith with no evidence to support it. But, while we cannot eliminate the possibility of an afterlife, we must recognize the possibility that this is all there will be. So, I believe we should focus our attention on living here and now.

The truth is that I have not mastered the here and now – I sometimes fall into regret or worry. But I try hard to be here and live in the now, because I believe that this is the day.