I’m busy working on some longer writing projects, so for this week’s blog post, I’m going to share a poem I wrote a number of years ago when I was pondering the idea of living in the present and how our views of past, present, and future shift and change through the years. Enjoy!
The Myopia of Now
When I was a babe, I only had Now.
Feed me, love me, burp me, change me—now!
Past and Future did not exist.
When I was a child, I only had Now.
Play with me, be my friend, let me grow up—now!
Past and Future, a pair of dangerous strangers, lurk on the outskirts of my neighborhood.
“You cry like a baby!” Past fades into the dim hallways of infanthood.
The curl of a finger, the promise of a garden with no childhood restraints. One eye peers round the corner toward Future; a lighter flickers and the piper’s smoke wafts from the darkened boulevard of adulthood.
I only want Future if I can have it now.
When I was a teen, I only had Now.
Notice me, let me go, love me for me—now!
Past. The reclusive uncle who only leaves his hovel to share mildewed child-hood photos. We can only invite a few to commencement. So sorry.
Future. The gambling uncle with a casino created simply for me.
Now the house bows to my youth; I will always win.
When I became an adult, I only had Now.
Give me a paycheck, sell me that house, marry me—now!
Past becomes a list on a résumé. Factual. Useful. A relic of teen and young adulthood.
Disillusioned and debt-ridden, the casino is cashed in for a cubicle and benefits. On stage, Future plays endless blues, but in the wings a musician whistles a lullaby.
What is now will ever be now.
When I became a parent, I only had Now.
Pick up your toys, take your bath, obey me—now!
Childhood memories leap from a womb, three-dimensional and revered in books filled with life scraps. Past takes up residence on the coffee table, requesting, yet not demanding, a place at the dinner table.
Future sets up shop in the basement media center, producing books, movies, and podcasts spouting parental propaganda and platitudes, and producing age-progression photographs on the home computer.
Yet the toys spill and the dishes dirty and the children grow and the bank account needs fed—now.
When my children began to leave, I only had Now.
Let’s take a vacation, snap a picture, talk into the night—now!
Past’s middle-age paunch jiggles with delight after telling an old story for the fifty-third time;
Future, thinning and greying, winds up the hopeful tune of a crib’s mobile once again.
Now is fleeting and suspect—now.
When I became old, I only had Now.
Sign this will, take this medication, attend to your affairs—now!
As Future, wizened and wasted, huddles on the rug by the fire, Past, now truly obese, lies in its bed unable to rise, squinting at re-runs on a giant screen TV, frustrated by emergency announcements that interrupt and come with increasing frequency.
I sigh and pick up the obligatory pair of spectacles sitting on my bedside table and see…
Now is not alone—
Past and Future flank its right and left and always have.
The truth of “I AM” becomes clearer.
Past, Now, and Future converge–a trinity of time.