There’s only this catastrophe

I’ve been a tad bit obsessed with catastrophe since I was nine years old.

Maybe longer; but I remember waking up in a sweat from catastrophe dreams around that time.

Tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis.

The dreams weren’t always nightmares. In fact, sometimes I woke up feeling empowered because no matter how scary the dream, I always woke up alive.

Sometimes I even kicked some tsunami ass.

jon kabat zinn

I learned later that catastrophe dreams typically indicate anxiety or stress. (Surprise, surprise.)

This understanding transformed a recurring nightmare into an opportunity for introspection. An ongoing opportunity.

And while I don’t have catastrophe dreams very often anymore, when I do, I know it’s time to slow down. It’s time to recalibrate. Return to the basics. Ask myself what’s important.

Remind myself to live less in my mind and more in the moment.

This moment.

It’s all we can do.

It’s all we have.

This moment.

This understanding is what we wake up to in the moment following tragedy.

This understanding is what we wake up to in the moment before a perceived catastrophe.

And then we fall asleep again.

But, what if we were to carry this understanding with us?

Into the next moment?

Into this very moment?

The only moment we have.

Life is a catastrophe, to paraphrase Jon Kabat-Zinn, the mindfulness guru who probably best perpetuated in the U.S. this concept of “living in the moment.”

Bills to pay. Kids to feed. Spouses to please. Bosses to appease. The everyday catastrophes of life.

Which means we can stop waiting for a catastrophe to happen.

This is it.

And to paraphrase an unwitting proponent of mindfulness, Jonathan Larsen, the creator of the hit Broadway musical Rent — who died the day before his show premiered Off-Broadway:

There’s no day but today.

Words that constitute the same concept as “living in the moment” but with a musically moving execution. And the topical catastrophe of AIDS.

AIDS or not. Natural disaster or not. Mayan apocalypse or not. Madness or not. Pain or not. Fear or not.

“There is no future. There is no past….”

There’s no day but today.  And it’s not bad background music to hum to a Mayan apocalypse.

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