How much is this moment worth to me? To get a sense of worth of something I need to compare it to something else, something on the same scale. I would probably value the moment I take a step into the emptiness of the open sky with a parachute on my back more than a quiet morning in the kitchen when I am waiting for my espresso to be ready. At least today when I feel I could use more action :-).
Most of our awake time I spend comparing stuff, assigning value to things, events and experiences based on how I feel about them at a particular time. It is easy to forget that all of those also have absolute value, outside myself and my story. Every single experience, event or thing is unique and therefore comparing it to the next one does not make sense.
If we remembered about the absolute value of everything, lots of anxiety in our lives would dissipate because at its root lies comparison, preferences and discrimination of one thing over another. When we take relative value of things for their absolute value, we end up chasing those things or experiences we value higher than others. This is not bad in itself, it just doesn’t work in the end.
How can I remind myself of the absolute value of things then? The idea of the impermanence and death in particular works as a good reminder for me, troubling as it may sound to some people. 🙂 I haven’t done any contemplation practice on death which is one of the practices in Tibetan Buddhism but find that simply reminding myself of death is helpful for taking a larger perspective on my life.
Death is our eternal companion. It is always to our left, an arm’s length behind us. Death is the only wise adviser that a warrior has. Whenever he feels that everything is going wrong and he’s about to be annihilated, he can turn to his death and ask if that is so. His death will tell him that he is wrong, that nothing really matters outside its touch. His death will tell him, I haven’t touched you yet.’
– Carlos Castaneda, from Journey to Ixtlan
From Radiolab: Moments by Will Hoffman. The film celebrates life ans is inspired by David Eagleman’s book Sum.