Alan Watts: The Eternal Now

A good life is not elsewhere

Thomas Oppong

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Photo by Sam Carter on Unsplash

Our obsession with the past and future is how we miss everything happening now. It’s an unconscious human habit. Life is a dance with the present, Alan Watts would say.

More often than not, we “time travel”. Looking for answers.

We spend so much time in our heads. You are either in the past, overthinking what you could have done differently. Or in the future, stressing about everything that could go wrong.

We all do it.

I’m constantly reminding myself to be present. “Don’t stay there,” I keep telling myself. No matter how long we take to reminisce about how to “bend” the future to our will, we can’t influence the unknown. We can only focus on our proactive actions now.

“Today is the only tangible reality.”

It’s a maxim that has served me well. It helps me snap out of the past or the future. It works like a charm, especially when playing with my daughter. She deserves my full attention.

The only way to spend time with her “fully” is to deliberately “break the mind’s” attachment to the past or the future.

Life, with its highs and lows, joys and sorrows, unfolds within the confines of the present moment. It’s the only realisation you need to transcend some of your suffering.

As the philosopher Alan Watts wisely puts it:

“This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realise it is play.”

Watts was a British philosopher, author, and speaker known for simplifying the significance of Eastern philosophies for Western audiences.

He thought time was not a “physical reality.” And that we live in an “eternal now.” “No valid plans for the future can be made by those who have no capacity for living now. I have realised that the past and future are real illusions, that they exist in the present, which is what there is and all there is,” Watts wrote.

If you don’t value the present or actively engage in this moment, what makes

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Thomas Oppong

Making the wisdom of great thinkers instantly accessible. As seen on Forbes, Inc. and Business Insider. For my popular essays, go here: https://thomasoppong.com