When the moment calls you, listen

Ever wonder what it means to live in the present? Here’s a great example from Stephen Hume’s essay “A Walk with the Rainy Sisters,” published in his anthology of the same name:

The wind rose suddenly the other night, nudging me awake. It rustled through the forest canopy of maple and willow outside my window and snuffled around the eaves like some enormous, restless animal.

I slipped out of bed and into a pair of jeans, shrugged into my old Cowichan sweater with the snowflake pattern, stepped outside the world we parcel out in hours, minutes and seconds and went for a walk in the dishevelled vastness of time embedded in every starry night at the edge of the continent.

The wind had swept the sky clear. . . . Above the road, a river of stars, the Milky Way, the embracing arms of the galaxy . . . . The whole vista of the winter heavens spread around me.

Awoken on a windy night that seemed to whisper his name, Hume gave in to the mystery of that call. He didn’t roll over and go back to sleep. Instead, he grasped the moment and went outside for a walk, alone, in the middle of a dark, chilly night. As a result, he was dazzled by a clear, glittering sky and filled with such a strong sense of peaceful connectedness that the memory of it continues to move him to this day.

Being present doesn’t have to involve big moments. All it requires is recognizing — and acting on — the urges that pull you at the very moment they pull. They’re there for a reason, those urges. Listen, and your life will be rich.

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