Amy Uyematsu wrote this poem for the Zen monk, Thich Nhat Hanh. In several books, he describes the peacefulness of drinking tea, washing dishes, and being a parent. The key to success, and it is hard to accomplish, is to be present and give one’s self over to the task, the person, and moment being shared.
Carl D’Agostino at I Know I Made You Smile reminded me today that the present is “very trying times for most of us.” It is. I find it easier to fictionalize the past and fantasize the future, but it is demanding to be present to the moment I share with someone else, a task, and/or an object.
The poem suggests this living in the present is not a task to be mastered, but something we engage with throughout our lives and it is hard work. Reading the poem gives me a sense of what a great role model Thich Nhat Hanh would be as he makes time for the present moment.
I read articles about mindfulness as a corporate strategy for leaders and followers alike. The authors often treat mindfulness as if it is something we can turn on and off at will, that there are 5 easy steps to follow. I know, from personal experience and missteps, that it is not that easy to live in the present moment each and every moment. The sunset I watch, the tea I drink, and the smiles I share with loved ones are not always easy to capture in the moment. It takes a life time of practice that is never complete.
How many years of suffering
revealed in hands like his
small and deliberate as a child’s
The way he raises them
from his lap, grasps the teacup
with sure, unhurried ease
Yet full of anticipation
for what he will taste in each sip
he drinks as if it’s his first time
Lifts the cup to his mouth,
a man who’s been practicing all his life,
each time tasting something new.