Posted in Live

Looking Around in Awareness

“Don’t look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness.”(James Thurber)

It’s another semi-scorching day as I settle in for a few hours at my writing desk. My fan is on my desk, just an arm’s length away as it will be for the next couple days. I am delighted to be here in this  moment,  experiencing the “power of now” as Eckhart Tolle writes about so lovingly.

The power of now is also the “how of now” as I once wrote about it in a Dr. Seuss-like way.  It is only the present moment, the “now” that will ever show me the most adaptive and appropriate “how.” If I am as patient, still, and present as possible, if I am ready, able, and willing in the most Taoist sense, reality and circumstances will unfold as they are meant to and I will know the most harmonious way to act or react.

Quite often there is no need to act or react at all. As Mother Teresa said, “Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.” Even further, as Pema Chodron writes, “The present moment is our doorway to liberation.” For me, this is about making choices and creating internal and external spaces that are serene and soothing even in the midst of a storm. It is also about letting go of the abstactions of past and future–the anger, expectation, judgment, or regret that may come from past experience and the fear that comes with an unknown future.

Although I am by nature and nurture a reflective and sentimental soul who loves to re-experience the deeper meanings of past events and a perfectionist who wants to move forward in much wiser and more harmonious ways than I have before, I realize that these are merely good intentions.

Without limiting the creative power of positive intention coupled with a gentle discipline, there is also a letting go with faith and clarity–a sense of open optimism–that must occur as well. Things don’t always go according to plan and even the most-well meaning acts can backfire. Nasty things happen to good people. This, of course, is dizzying and there is only one way to find peace.

It is not in looking up or down. It is not in attachment or detachment which are equally problematic extremes. As Thurber suggests, it is all about “looking around in awareness.” It is about being gently curious and alert, tuned in to the internal and external conditions as experienced by each one of us as unique human beings.

All that is real and can ever be real is what is unfolding now in this particular moment. All else is a memory, projection, interpretation, illusion, . . . or even more  mind-boggling, an  interpretation of an illusion.

While such deeply philosophical or metacognitive thoughts may not be practical for everyday life,  they are an important part of the human condition. Not only is each person having their own personal life experience but they are perceiving and interpreting it in their own way which almost always shifts over time. No matter how simple or clear-cut things may seem, reality is subjective, fluid, and fleeting.

Although this is unsettling for some, it is reassuring for me. It frees me to write about my perceptions of my own unique experience and fosters greater understanding of the perceptions of others.

Looking around in awareness while taking my final sip of tea, I am steeped in awareness, the greatest gift of life right here in the full unfolding, the “how of now.”

Wishing you wisdom, wonder, wellness, and love,


Kalen Marquis is the therapist, educator and human bean who founded Kwil.Club with frizzy-fuzzy, green-nosed Kwil. He is a registered clinical counsellor in private practice in New Westminster, BC. He has more than two decades of experience as a teacher, teacher-librarian and school counsellor.