"Like most humanoids, I am burdened with what the Buddhists call the "monkey mind"--the thoughts that swing from limb to limb, stopping only to scratch themselves, spit and howl. From the the distant past to the unknowable future, my mind swings wildly through time, touching on dozens of idea a minute, unharnessed and undisciplined. This in itself is not necessarily a problem; the problem is the emotional attachment that goes along with the thinking. Happy thoughts make me happy, but--whoop!--how quickly I swing again into obsessive worry, blowing the mood; and then it's the remembrance of an angry moment and I start to get hot and pissed off all over again; and then my mind decides it might be a good time to start feeling sorry for itself, and loneliness follows promptly. You are, after all, what you think. Your emotions are slaves your thoughts, and you are slave to your emotions.
The other problem with all this swinging though the vines of thought is that you are never where you are. You are always digging in the past or poking at the future, but rarely do you rest in this moment. It's something like the habit of my dear friend Susan, who--whenever she sees a beautiful place--exclaims in near panic, 'It's so beautiful here! I want to come back here someday!' and it takes all of my persuasive powers to try to convince her that she is already here. If you're looking for a union with the divine, this kind of forward/backward whirling is a problem. There's a reason why the call God a presence--because God is right here, right now. In the present is the only place to find Him, and now is the only time."
That is very true of me and the monkey mind is what trips me up every time. It gets me when I wake up, when I'm trying to get things done... pretty much all of the time. But the second paragraph is very true as well. When I went on the first call where someone of 25 years of age died right there, that's when I realised there is a God. Maybe not what Catholics or Christians or Jews perceive to be God, but certainly something that in a million years one might never know or understand. It was not the introduction you'd wish for. But in that moment, in that now, I understood completely what she meant. I just did not realise until I read this part what exactly I knew.
When an 80-year-old person dies, the feeling, the experience is different. By the time one has reached 80, he or she has made her peace with the knowledge that this life has a finite time; that he or she will die. Those people don't need God's presence to pass from living to dead - they know what they need to do and do it. Someone who is still in his or her twenties is still immortal. I thought I was until I was 33 and had that accident. After that, I started to treasure each moment - but I still do the mental tree-swinging.
I'm surrounded, however, with people who don't. It gives a whole new meaning to be surrounded by overachievers...