While many people credit Noel Gallagher from the band Oasis with the pearl of wisdom that is, ‘Don’t look back in Anger’, from the song of the same title, I have always known it to have come from the pen of American author and wit James Thurber. In its full form it reads, “Don’t look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness”. I have also heard the final part adapted as “but around in awe”. Perhaps James Thurber is just my Noel Gallagher and somebody said it or something similar even further back. However the full Thurber quote is one that we should all sit with for a while from time to time just to remind ourselves to live in the now and always remember that while we are regretting the past or fretting about the future we are not enjoying the now.
You could argue that this ‘now’ living also has a negative side. Had Brian Cowen not been living in the moment, sinking pints at a rate of knots on that fateful night and considering instead his national radio interview scheduled for the following morning, he might have been better off in the long run. Then again if I had the headaches of Brian Cowen and the opportunity to forget it all for just one evening in the bottom of a pint glass I might have opted for that too. In fact, if we’re honest, we’ve all done it. How many of us have, in the moment, whipped out the credit card or used the ESB money to buy that pair of shoes that we just couldn’t leave behind us? How often has that last piece of cake been calling to you from the plate and while you know it will blow your diet efforts, you dig in anyway remembering that there were people on the Titanic that skipped dessert because of their waistlines. Or how about that night when you said you’d be home by ten, but the fun was just too much and so you stayed for just fifteen minutes more and another fifteen minutes more. You meant to text or call home, genuinely, but by then you figured it would be too late and the other person would be asleep so you didn’t bother. Suddenly it was 5am and as you tried to quietly remove your clothes and slip into bed unnoticed all hell broke loose with the words “Where have you been, I’ve been worried sick”. Oh yes we all, whether we will admit it or not, live very much in the now when it suits us and often to our detriment and destruction.
Enjoy special moments
And yet the times when we should be living properly in the now and milking the most out of a special moment we neglect to do so. We spend time with the kids or family and find ourselves absentmindedly thinking about something in the future or the past instead of being fully present. As a simple example I went quiet one night recently during dinner and was eventually jerked back to the present with the words, “Alright, what’s wrong?” There was nothing wrong. I was actually pondering the following day’s work commitment which was outdoors and therefore posing a clothing dilemma with the changeable weather. I had to prepare in case of rain, yet it wasn’t going to be too cold although there might be a wind and where I was going was very exposed and it could be chilly. I’d also be miles from the car and didn’t want to bring a bag and so my mind was rambling along figuring out the best combination of shoes and clothes. The upshot of course was that with such intense thinking I certainly wasn’t enjoying my dinner at that particular moment and in such a pensive mood I was a very rude dining companion. We even do it when alone. We consider the day ahead while taking a shower instead of enjoying the shower for the sheer pleasure it is. We drive home from work thinking back on the day or planning the evening ahead instead of just being in the present.
All of this is brought into very sharp focus in a book by local writer, sage and life coach Mary Lawless entitled, ‘It’s Now O’Clock, Positive Living in Turbulent Times.’ Indeed the times are turbulent and so every household should have a copy of this book. In fact it would have been much more productive had the government sent every home Mary’s book instead of those wasteful, now out of date, iodine tablets and the glossy emergency handbook. (Oh yes, you remember getting it now but where is it? A fat lot of good that will be to you in an emergency) All proceeds from the sale of ‘It’s Now O’Clock’ are in aid of the South East Radiotherapy Trust so that’s a good enough reason to buy a copy in the first place, but what’s between the covers is gold. This is not a book to read cover to cover and then put it on a shelf or give it to the charity shop. This is a book that should be ‘around’ all the time. Each heading is self contained and so you can turn to a page randomly if you wish, read it, put the book down, digest it, think about it and let the wisdom sink in. These are pages that you will return to and read often. Some you will identify with immediately, some will resonate deeply, others will have something that you can put into practice straight away and more will just make you think and be more aware. It is written without either religious undertones or, at the other end of the scale, that watery self help spirituality of the ‘universe’ or ‘higher being’ that seems to be so popular today. This is a real book about real life that is universal in its wisdom. Regardless of your position right now, employed or unemployed, a homemaker or running a large company we can all benefit from assessing where we are from time to time. We might find that everything is just fine or that with a little tweak here and there it could be even better. We would never expect a mechanic to fix our car while the engine is still running and yet we sometimes don’t afford our lives the same luxury. We just fix them on the go without stopping to think. It’s Now O’Clock is definitely a tool for improvement and living positively. By the way this would make a great book for waiting rooms and reception areas everywhere and ten times more beneficial than a dog eared copy of Hello or Take a Break from March 2007. ‘It’s Now O’Clock’ by Mary Lawless is a great antidote to the doom and gloom of the present times.