ronniemcbrayer300 maroonKENTUCKY (4/21/13) - There is a Zen parable about a man who surprised a sleeping tiger while walking through the jungle. The ferocious animal pursued the man, causing him to throw down his bag and walking stick, as he ran for his life.

With the tiger tightly on his heels, the man came to a steep cliff. He saw a vine dangling over the edge, quickly grabbed it, and began shimmying down the vine just narrowly escaping the teeth of the tiger who now leered hungrily at him from the rim above.

This put the traveler in a real predicament. He was high in the air with no place to go. The vicious tiger was overhead; jagged rocks were below; and he was clinging to a vine that was not nearly long enough to lower him to the ground. Then, as if things could not be direr, a mouse emerged from its den and began to nibble at the vine.

At this precise moment the traveler saw a perfect, plump strawberry right there within arm’s reach, growing out of the face of the cliff. He picked it, ate it, and exclaimed, “Wow!!! That is the best strawberry I’ve ever tasted in my entire life!”

The story ends there (leaving the man hanging in a lurch), but the lesson keeps going: If the man had been preoccupied with the rocks below (his possible future), or the tiger above (his past troubles), or the mouse chewing away at the vine (his vanishing present), he would have missed the strawberry within the present moment. He would have missed the joy of now.

Now: There are few words with more potency but hardly a word more fallow or underutilized, because most of us do not live “in the now.” We don’t even aspire to live in the broader category of “today,” having trading the present for a regretful past or a fearful future, a trade that leaves no life left to live.

Those of us who have fixed our eyes on the rearview mirror feel the days gone by slashing angrily at our heels with the unanswerable questions of regret. Where did my life go off the rails? How could I have made such terrible mistakes? What could I have done differently? Why hasn’t God (or my parents or my spouse or my employer) treated me fairly or at least as well as others?

Such questions only end with inadequate replies, proving the axiom true: “There is no future in the past.” But there is no future in the future either; not a view of the future that is tainted with fear! Yet, countless people live their lives in a hypothetical time machine, always worrying and fretting over a distant yet to come that might never materialize.

These future-fearing people fill the air with their own questions, questions that usually begins with the words, “What if?” What if I lose my job? What if I am diagnosed with cancer? What if I run out of money? What if the economy collapses? Again, such questions can’t be answered. They can only rob the worriers of the time they have today.

And of course there are those who are preoccupied with the future differently. They aren’t worried. They are enthused. They have schemes and plans for tomorrow, but tomorrow never comes. They say things like: “I’ll do it one day (whatever ‘it’ is). Life will be better next week…next month…next year…next decade. Eventually I’ll get around to it. In the end I will achieve my goals.” But in the end, the end comes far too soon, and all the best-laid plans never materialize.

If we are engrossed with the snarling monsters of our past, obsessed with the fearful uncertainties of tomorrow, or spend our precious few days prepping for an ethereal future, this much is certain: We give away today; we miss the now.

Right now might not be your greatest moment, but now is all you have. Give now all you have, and you might be surprised at the joy you will discover.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, speaker, and author of multiple books. You can read more and receive regular e-columns in your inbox at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.


Disclaimer: The content supplied by columnists and letters to the Editor on this site does not in any way, shape or form, implied or otherwise, necessarily express or suggest endorsement or support of any of such content, statement, or opinions therein. SurfKY News does not necessarily adhere to or endorse content provided by outside non-staff sources.

LIKE SurfKY on Facebook - Click here to LIKE us now.

© Copyright 2015 SurfKY News Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission. SurfKY News encourages you to share this story on social media.

In Other News...

Col. Stephen Trigg Chapter SAR to Honor Local Vietnam War Veterans on March 29

KENTUCKY (3/26/15) — The Col. Stephen Trigg Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution is making a deliberate… Read More

Madisonville Police Arrest Reports - March 25, 2015

MADISONVILLE, Ky. (3/25/15) — The Madisonville Police Department released the following reports Wednesday, March 25.… Read More

Most Read This Week

March 18, 2015 9415

UPDATE: Hanson Man Located in Henderson, Taken to…

by Trooper Stu Recke
March 18, 2015 6819

UPDATE: Name of Pedestrian Killed on Western…

by Trooper Stu Recke
March 24, 2015 4840

One Dies, Another Injured in Mortons Gap Traffic…

by Deputy Heath Owens
March 25, 2015 4824

Fazoli's, Roses Coming to Madisonville

by Amber Averitt, SurfKY News
March 25, 2015 4723

Grand Jury Finds No Criminal Wrongdoing in Bean…

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
March 24, 2015 3983

UPDATE: One Injured in Hopkinsville Road Accident

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News

Most Read This Month

February 25, 2015 13785

Multi-Agency Investigation Nets Large-Scale Meth…

by Trooper Stu Recke
March 09, 2015 12807

Multi-Agency Drug Bust Results in $1 Million Meth…

by KSP DESI

Stories Trending Today

March 25, 2015 4824

Fazoli's, Roses Coming to Madisonville

by Amber Averitt, SurfKY News
March 25, 2015 4723

Grand Jury Finds No Criminal Wrongdoing in Bean…

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
March 25, 2015 3630

Madisonville Man's Living Room Leap Lands Him in…

by Madisonville Police Department / Hopkins County Detention Center
March 25, 2015 3159

Rep Brent Yonts' Letter to TVA concerning…

by Brent Yonts
March 25, 2015 2264

Alleged Speeding in School Zone Ends in DUI Arrest

by Madisonville Police Department / Hopkins County Detention Center
March 25, 2015 1571

Greenville Man Charged with Theft of Vehicle

by Wes Miller
March 25, 2015 1558

Crime Stoppers Fugitive of the Week – March 25,…

by Hopkinsville – Christian County Crime Stoppers
March 25, 2015 1298

Madisonville Police Arrest Reports - March 25,…

by Madisonville Police Department
March 26, 2015 1286

‘Chasing Rainbow’ Heart Walk Raises Funds for AHA

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
March 25, 2015 1235

Hopkins County Sheriff's Reports Released

by Hopkins County Sheriff's Office