Embrace The Moment

Embrace The Moment

Words: Paribha VASHIST

It’s that time of the day when you have your refreshing cup of tea — or, coffee, or whatever you prefer. You are ecstatic to see the aesthetically pleasing cup and saucer on which it is placed. Instantly, you think, “Oh, a picture of this moment would suit my Instagram feed.” And, by reflex action, your hands reach your phone to capture the scene. But, have you actually captured the moment in its truest sense? Did you allow the light that reflected from the cup to form a deep impression on your retina? Did you get enough time to process the image that was formed — the minute details, what it represented, what it stood for, and all the ‘whys’ and ‘hows?’

The articulations of two distinct personalities — one a reputed English economist and the other a revered Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist — shed light on the importance of appreciating the magic of every object, while embracing the moment.

The Economist’s Perspective

Tim Harford’s perceptive book, The Undercover Economist, accentuates how “normal people look remarkable in the eyes of economists.” This is primarily because economists observe how people behave and react to varying signals. He substantiates his point by explaining why the economist would find a regular cup of cappuccino intriguing. Instead of viewing the cup of cappuccino as having no particular significance, the economist would view it as a culmination of the efforts of several individuals acting in their self-interest. To the economist, the “cappuccino reflects the outcome of a system of staggering complexity” — one that involves growing, picking, roasting and blending coffee, raising and milking cows, rolling steel and moulding plastics and assembling them into an espresso machine and, lastly, shaping ceramics into a mug.

It’s, indeed, a mind-boggling perception of an object that we regularly consume, but never give much thought to.

The Philosopher’s Insight

The late Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhất Hanh’s inspiring mindfulness and art of deep listening, enable us to live with love, peace and meditative calmness. His enchanting words and skill of using metaphors help us to recognise ‘interbeing’ — that nothing is discrete and insulated. Rather, everything is connected. Hanh propels us gently to overcome our alienated, disenchanted and fragmented existence and value the “interdependent nature of all things.” This is akin to the late biologist Edward Wilson’s concept of orderliness, also interconnectedness, or what he called as ‘consilience.’ The inference is simple — it is only by looking at the set from the whole, would we be able to see the real nature of each element.

It is a sad truth, however, that most of us miserably fail at practising such simple, also profound, techniques. Whenever we see, or experience, something unique, we instantly want to capture that fleeting moment with our camera, instead of ‘seizing’ it through our god-gifted natural lens — our eyes.

Why do we not pause, forget the ticking clock and appreciate the present-moment? This is because we have not spent enough time developing the ability to activate our senses and feel completely connected with our surroundings. Practising mindfulness helps us to listen to the inner voice that illuminates our consciousness. This requires us to just take a deep breath to enjoy the feeling of being alive. When we do this, we ‘feel’ the moment and our experiences become permanent, making the role of a camera redundant.

Hanh aptly said, “When we look at a chair, we see the wood, but we fail to observe the tree, the forest, the carpenter, or our own mind. When we meditate on it, we can see the entire universe in all its inter-woven and independent relations in the chair.” This is the beauty of mindful thinking: it not only helps us be empathetic towards others, but also content with ourselves and the community at large. Just think of it — it is such a simple foray, but it helps us to cherish fleeting moments that may seem insignificant, or mundane.

Hanh often advised, “Don’t drink your tea like someone who gulps down a cup of coffee during a work break. Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the whole earth revolves: s-l-o-w-l-y, evenly, without rushing towards the future.”

It’s high time we learned to mindfully appreciate every moment of our life, in this increasingly madding world, and acknowledge that we are vibrantly alive — this by itself is worthy of a celebration.

PARIBHA VASHIST is a first-year Bachelor of Economics student at Gargi College, University of Delhi, New Delhi. A voracious reader and a naturally gifted writer, Vashist is zealously passionate about international economics, environmental policy and sustainable development. She wishes to effectively disseminate, in her own simple, yet profound way, scientific knowledge and policy tools to bringing about a positive, healthy change in our increasingly madding world.

2 thoughts on “Embrace The Moment

  1. Saroj Thakur says:

    A well-timed and much-needed perspective on living. The present generation, addicted to screen culture, may not understand the pure joy of living sans screens invading every aspect of their life. For someone, in my sixties, I can hark back on my childhood memories, deeply etched, as they are, in every nook and corner of my heart and mind. I fervently hope that Generation Next learns to live a truly good life, while making memories that last a lifetime.

  2. Dr G D Vashist says:

    Paribha has blended two views of an economist and a Buddhist monk nicely, to elicit the beauty of mindful thinking, while citing the simile of drinking a cup of tea/coffee, or looking at the wooden chair which reflects their intimate relationship [of the parts] with the rest of the universe. This, indeed, is a philosophical way of enjoying every moment of life… in the present-moment.

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