One day, I was playing chess with a female patient. We barely spoke to each other as we played. Her head was shaved, and she was obviously weak from months of chemotherapy. But she was so present with me for that hour or so that we were together. She was so in the here and now, so absorbed by life, so fascinated by everything, like a newborn baby. “Checkmate,” she said with a smile, as she cornered my king. She died that evening, but during that game she was more alive, more open to experience, more in love with the present moment, than many people who have another fifty years to live. Being present has nothing to do with time.
Why does it often take extreme life situations to bring back an awareness of the magic and mystery of life ? Why do we often wait until we’re about to die before discovering a deep gratitude for life as it is ? Why do we exhaust ourselves seeking love, acceptance, fame, success, or spiritual enlightenment in the future ? Why do we work or meditate ourselves into the grave ? Why do we postpone life ? Why do we hold back from it ? What are we looking for exactly ? What are we waiting for ? What are we afraid of ?
The Deepest Acceptance