By Angela Slezak
Mindfulness stresses the now and being present. Early on in this learning I wondered if that meant I should take all my money and travel around the world, which is what I really wanted to be doing “now.” Reconciling the idea of being present with impulsivity was confusing.
Today I don’t struggle with this thought. Being present is relevant whether I’ve decided to cook lunch or travel around the world. It’s not about the choice between the two. It’s how I live each choice.
Since childhood, it’s been a habit to spell out words and then re-arrange the letters into other words. That habit was due to playing anagrams as a child where you steal others’ words by making new words. Playing word jumbles and Scrabble added to this habit.
Several years ago, a friend taught me the etymology of many of the words I commonly use. The power of words has been lost, especially very recently as words have been used to confuse, not clarify. To give one’s “word” doesn’t have the potent effect that it may have once had.
The etymology of words created from anagram is fascinating, including the anagrams of “now” which are “won” and “own.”
Owning, winning and now (as immediate gratification) are the pillars of American culture. Owning appears quite natural to this culture but the cultures it replaced did not have this concept. It’s not as obvious as we’re taught to believe.
There is a lot of gratitude in American culture for the land and other objects (most especially houses and vehicles) that we own. Much care is given to the home which I see daily in the neighborhoods in which I walk. This is a large part of the American Dream.
However, owning (through shopping) has become the core of our economic existence to the point that we must forage the earth for products-of-owning. The irony for me is that we destroy our planet to create the optimal indoor and virtual environments.
Ownership appears addictive. Once we own, we want to own more, better objects.
Competition, especially via sports, is also a strong element of American culture. Our current president appears more focused on winning than possessing the object of that winning. The winning is the prize. Then there must be more winning. We chose him so his energy represents something appealing to us.
Winning combined with owning equals shopping. The coupon culture creates the sense of a deal (also an area of focus by our president). While our concept of male versus female energy is hunting (male) versus gathering (female), shopping for a deal (prey) with a coupon (weapon) seems a form of hunting.
Winning, like owning, seems addictive.
Americans want everything now and business is responding. Winning combined with owning combined with now equals Amazon.com.
Amazon is feeding into this culture by creating warehouses across the country so that we can order products and receive them the same day. In a sense, this has always been the case as you can get up and go to a store, although product choice may have been limited. But to have our needs and wants met so quickly and efficiently by the outside is akin to royal treatment. Think of all the servants to royalty who stood next to kings and queens waiting to do what regular folks do themselves – fetch a handkerchief, pour a cup of tea, button a shirt, lace a shoe, run a bath.
Mindfulness reveals our planning minds yet time is collapsing in a profound way where nothing can be done at any time but now. Rather than creating a sense of being present in the now, it creates the sense of overwhelming distraction and constant reaction. We’ve become both the servant and the royalty.
Now, like own and win, seems addictive. Possibly being present is the opposite of addiction.