When our attention is dispersed, do we lose our notion of being alive?

Commentary by José Parés Pérez, Concepción, Chile.

We adore the life we have; we enjoy it intensely when we pay attention to what we feel; we have really incredible moments when we are close to those we love; we delight in food that tantalises our taste buds; we experience indescribable moments of joy when we listen enraptured to a work of music or a book reading. Life provides us with innumerable occasions for participating in the joy of experiencing the things we like.

We would like to live forever when we are living in harmony, consistency and peace.

However, very often we trigger our own exit from life, our escape from ourselves. We reject the reality of life which is not always about dreaming, but also contains those moments of fear, of pain, of unattainable desires, moments that we generally dislike. It is then that we flee from life, we want to distract ourselves, so that we do not have to know about it, to forget what we do not want to feel.

We flee at that moment when we have the greatest need of ourselves in order to strengthen our desire to live. We resist what is happening to us or what we believe is happening to us. We fall victim to involuntary, repetitive thoughts about what we dislike. Pain is transformed into suffering, desire into craving and fear into depression.

All of that removes us from our present day lives. The bad moments that life brings us are only really bad when we allow them to be through our resistance to them.

Acceptance of everything that life brings us and that we cannot change, is an intelligent and logical attitude. In these circumstances we are not capable of appreciating that we are still alive, that we are still here, and we miss all of those incredible moments that, when we are paying attention to them, make us marvel at the wonder of being alive.

When I realised this, at quite a mature age, I was left with the indelible impression that I had been clumsily frittering my life away. It was not a bad life, but it could have been infinitely better.