Harvesting the Present

Here is an excerpt from End the Struggle and Dance With Life where Susan talks about reaping the benefits of living in the Now.”

For us in Western society, this idea of living in the moment is very foreign. Most of us are caught in the trap of preparing to live instead of living NOW…

When I go to college…then. When I graduate college…then. When I get married…then. When I have kids…then. When the kids go off on their own…then. When I go on vacation…then. When I get a new job…then. When I get a divorce…then. When I make enough money…then. When I retire…then.

“When…then” seems to govern our life. I was struck by the message Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi gave to an audience of elderly people. He told them that aging was their time for harvesting…for reaping the rewards. He said, “We have already plowed, sown seed, but we haven’t yet harvested.”

Although I certainly applaud his message that aging is a time of harvesting instead of a time of deterioration, I believe that we don’t have to wait until we are old to gather the riches; we can gather them every day of our lives.

While all ages are the “right time” for harvesting, we have to get past the conditioning of our “When…then” society that has taught us to “plow, sow the seeds, wait, and, (maybe) reap later.” And it helps to get past our unfortunate conditioning by recognizing how fraught with errors it is. For example:

1) It’s a pity to waste so much of our life waiting. Our faulty conditioning has led us to believe that the enjoyment is supposed to come only after all the work has been done—which seems to be never! Wouldn’t it make more sense to begin enjoying NOW…while all the work is being done?

2) Also, harvesting is a learned skill. This means that if we don’t learn how to do it when we are young, how will we know how to do it when we are old? It is a fact that many people retire, hoping finally to reap the rewards of all their hard work. But they haven’t a clue as to how to do this and often go into a deep depression. Some die shortly thereafter and others actually commit suicide. They simply have never learned how to harvest their lives!

On the brighter side, there are those who love retirement. They truly enjoy the riches that aging has to offer. And if you looked into their past, you would probably find that they enjoyed the riches before retirement as well. They had learned the art of harvesting before aging came upon them.