“The Place of the Present” by Forest Benedict

On a recent early morning I walked the beach and watched the waves. I savored the sand and the sky. I stood in a sliver of sunlight as it painted my back with warmth. I thought about the Divine and enjoyed the company of my baby boy as he waved at dogs and their people passing by. And in that matchless moment the question hovered, “where are the feelings”? I felt flawed knowing that I was basking in beauty and the accompanying emotions were vacant.

Later that day, I sat inside, viewing a video that began with a silent orchestra. The organ started the tune, then additional instruments layered progressively onto the melody. When, in unison, the violin voices weaved into the music, I felt the surge and tears poured into my eyes. Emotion embraced me.

As I think about these instances, I wonder if I measure the value of an experience by how deeply I feel it. If this is true, then how many genuinely miraculous minutes of my life do I demean and discount simply because I don’t have the parallel emotions? How many distracting detours does my life take in the pursuit of “great” feelings and the relief from the others? What will change when I become mindful and grateful in every moment, whether it engages my heart deeply or flat-lines? And in those times when there is pain, discomfort, shame, numbing, or nothing, can I treasure the gift of a flash of time that will swiftly morph into memory, aware that in the place of the present I am alive.

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