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The great thing about the present moment is that even in the midst of action there’s a certain stillness and repose about it. The agitations of concern drop away. Past and future are of no importance, and in the immediate present there is space and stillness. Anybody watching Raheem Stirling score his hat trick against the Czech Republic will know all about it. Click on link to see hime in action. Raheem.
A player in top form at the height of his physical powers is lovely to watch. I’m off to see The White Crow, a film about the great Russian dancer, Nureyev. If you see Raheem score there’s something balletic about it. Or for those who would prefer ballet itself you might like to see Nureyev in Swan Lake.
The other thing about the present, not being full of habitual thinking it’s full of possibility. There’s a lovely poem by Emily Dickinson, I Dwell in Possibility. When you dwell in possibility anything is possible. Judging from what has been said about how Gareth Southgate, England’s manager, frees the minds of his young players, he also dwells in possibility.
One of the quotations by Marcus Aurelius used in last week’s class is: Being aware of the present is being aware of our freedom. And we as a class are thinking freely about new possibilities for the course. One of those possibilities is offering you the last session of term for free.
Here is your invitation. Do come if you can:
Very best regards, William
Rest and repose are usually considered the preserve of corpses, but repose has its own dynamic, its own vitality. Rest in action allows for possibility, whilst agitation in action for far fewer. When you see a great sportsman or a dancer, a noticeable thing about them is their sense of ease, that despite the fact that there is incredible speed and vigour in all that they do, there is also a sense of complete composure.
When you see a great game of any kind, despite all the elation and despondency, there is great pleasure to be gained from seeing the conjunction of movement and rest.
A sportsman is forever trying to find the space. If they are lucky they can find it out there on the field of play, and if they are even luckier they can also find it within themselves. You can see it clearly as a jumper prepares to jump or sprinter as he gets down on the blocks. You can see it as a footballer takes a corner, ready to curl a ball in, or a rugby player as he prepares to take a conversion. There is a sense of inner stillness and complete concentration. Something like this can be seen in almost every sport. Although straining to the ultimate, some sportsmen possess this power even in the midst of action. These are the great ones, and its at the heart of the pleasure we gain from seeing them in full flight. Every action is totally harmonic and utterly economic. In these movements we recognise their intelligence and skill. We describe them as being ‘on form’. Their reactions are ‘lightning sharp’ and yet they have ‘all the time in the world’. Why? Because they are physically at their peak. They have a body that is utterly responsive to the need of the game, and what is more, they are totally in the moment. This is where ‘all the time in the world’ exists. This is the eternal present. A game may have been carefully planned, with all kind of strategies developed to beat the opposition, but it’s the moment that counts. This magical dimension is where everything is lit, where there exists space and all possibility. It’s there where maximum action resides and maximum rest.
We may not be great sportsmen, but there is nothing stopping us learning from their achievements. Whether in preparation or in play, being in the moment is what counts, utterly alert and utterly at rest. Try it.