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  • Writer's picturePaul Cotter

Shaping the Moment


Wet hands shaping a spinning clay pot

The phrase "Be Here Now" is like spiritual kudzu, sprouting up everywhere. This expression, which was the title of the 1971 book by Ram Dass, is emblazoned on everything from caps and t-shirts to clocks and coffee mugs. But what does it really mean?

 

We all know that it's inviting us to live fully in the present moment. But if we dig deeper, what does that mean?

 

What’s so special about the present moment? What does this moment have that other moments don’t have?

 

It seems to me that a helpful analogy can be found in clay.

 

The past is like clay that’s been shaped into a pot and dried in the sun. It's fully hardened – there’s nothing more we can do with it. It’s finished.

 

At the other extreme, the future is like clay with too much water added. It's a thin, runny sludge – there's nothing of substance we can work with. It hasn't happened yet.


And that brings us to the present moment. In this moment alone, we find the workable clay we need: something we can hold, something that's soft and pliable so it can be molded into anything we choose to make of it.


The present moment is the only moment that allows us to take things into our own hands and shape the outcome we’d like to see.

 

That's the beauty and the reward of being here now.

 

 

 

Photographer’s Footnote: I photographed these potters' hands at the annual Sawdust Art Festival in Laguna Beach, California in the summer of 2013.

 

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