Updated: Aug 16, 2021
“Time means a lot to me because, you see, I, too, am also a learner and am often lost in the joy of forever developing and simplifying. If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.” Bruce Lee
This quote dug its way deep inside my psyche when I first read it this morning.
I find myself struggling occasionally with anxiety and stress, maniacally juggling work and family commitments; beating myself up for not getting a run in; despairing over the state of the house - the cobwebs high in the corners of rooms and paw prints on the floor leaping out to me and crushing my motivation and spirit. “I can’t get on top of it all!” screams my inner critic, harsh and unforgiving as she is.
And so, when I read Bruce Lee’s quote, I thought about it for a minute and as I did so became aware of a powerful sense of the present enveloping me.
Bear in mind that I work hard to live my life in a mindful way - I look around me, taking everything in as I go. I strive to not let the small stuff bug me (not always successfully - see above - but I try) and I remember to breathe deeply to pull myself back into the here and now whenever my mind starts to wander, untethered with escalating thoughts.
But these few words of Bruce Lee’s made a big difference to all that – they did their job, in that they were not simply yet another dictum that washes over me, leaving no impression. As I read them, I stopped at my desk and the present engulfed me like a wave. I was aware of the sound and the air and the exact snapshot of time that I was immersed in. Nothing else mattered. I forgot the stresses; I stopped agonising over what might happen tomorrow. I breathed in oxygen and noticed that I was alive and vibrant and actually, only 45 years of age.
The tiredness and despondency vanished and I caught myself as I was falling down that familiar well of self-pity and helplessness. I said to myself,
“You’re doing bloody amazing right now, because all you are is right now – and look at right now. It’s actually bloody brilliant. The sun is shining, you have your health, and you do not drink or smoke or engage in any of those shitty behaviours you used to. You do your very best as a parent, you’re kind and loving, and you’ve got a roof over your head. All your family and friends are in good health and they’re happy.”
But it wasn’t just this sense of gratitude that Bruce Lee’s wisdom effected upon me – it was a grasp of how we are only this, right now, in this moment. Everything else is a fabrication; just our version of what already happened or what might be about to happen. We live by our little fantasies, we use them to reassure and comfort ourselves. And they are contrived by all of our experiences and fears and anxieties – they don’t mean anything. All that we are is this, right now.
That’s a heady thought, once you’ve wrapped your head around it.
It’s also a very forceful and compelling one, because it has the power to assist you in your efforts to conquer whatever demons you’re trying to beat. If you are only ever here, in the present, refusing to buy into your past regrets or future fears, you are absolutely in control of what you do.
Try it. Because you are only ever this – right now.