I’m noticing lately how many of my thoughts pertain to my immediate to-do list: I need to do this, then this, then this, as if I will forget to brush my teeth or have a cup of tea if I don’t remind myself several times. Thus I am oriented not in the present but almost the present—five minutes from now, but that isn’t good enough. Being lost in thoughts about five minutes from now is precisely the same as being lost in thoughts about 40 years from now or 40 years ago. Well, maybe thinking about five minutes from now is slightly more useful than thinking about 40 years hence, but both lack the freshness and vividness of being present in this moment.
I thought of the often-repeated meditation instruction to pay attention to “just this.” And how Ajahn Sumedho uses the formulation “ ___ is like this.” “Back pain is like this.” “Stress is like this.” It occurred to me that I needed another “this” formulation: Just do this. Not, just do this, but just do this.
I also see that there is a usually hidden view underlying my thoughts about what I need to do, namely that something bad will happen if I don’t get it done. That might be true, or it might not.