The Power of Here
The empowerment and freedom found in (at)tending to our surroundings
There’s a siren outside my window. Somebody’s going to emergency, somebody’s going to jail. I don’t live in New York City anymore. I haven’t in five years. I miss it sometimes, like I miss my coked-out party girl days, like I miss my exes when I’m lonely.
I missed New York something fierce all winter. In Vermont, everything dies with the changing of the seasons. There’s a wisdom in it, sure, but between the chronic Lyme and the polar vortex, I had a hard time finding it. Down in New York, the magnolias are already in bloom. Here, the trees are empty, the roads are muddy, the people are slowly waking up.
The other day, I found myself complaining to a friend about my ennui. “I look outside, and everything’s just white,” I said. “White snow. White mountains. White people. It’s all the same, every day, and I’m sick of it.”
Instead of laughing, he looked genuinely surprised. He said he saw nothing but changes outside. The skunk cabbage was springing up. The rivers were overflowing with melted snow. There were more birds in the trees. His view was one of a thousand tiny movements, emergences of the next chapter, the beginnings of new life.
All I saw was white.
What my friend noticed was both a place and a time, the subtle transition of a place over time you only see when you really pay attention. That’s the kind of sight that comes from really knowing somewhere. Despite all my lofty words about learning to engage in my ecosystem, I don’t know it. These days, so few of us do.
I have to ask myself: Do you know where you are right now? Not just as a point on the map, as a concept of location, I mean — do you really know it? Do you know its needs and its history, its traumas and its gifts? Is it a friend to you? A mentor? A home?
Or is it just a back-drop?
In 1997, Eckhart Tolle published his now-world famous book The Power of Now. I’m sure you’ve heard of it, but in case you haven’t, it’s a guide to finding inner peace and spiritual liberation by doing what spiritual teachers have recommended for thousands of years: detach identity from the whirring (and worrying) of the mind.