The Eternal Now

Last Wednesday, July 26, 2022, Norman Lear turned 100 years old. If you don’t remember him, perhaps you’ll remember the trailblazing television shows he produced in the 1970s and ‘80s. All in the Family, Maude, The Jeffersons, and Good Times were among them.


The day after his birthday, the New York Times opinion page published a piece by Lear called “On my 100th birthday. . .” He wrote: “Reaching my own personal centennial is cause for a bit of reflection on my first century.” It was not lost on me that his reflection appeared in the paper on the first day of his second century here.


He shared much about himself, including his political viewpoint and personal and professional achievements. However, his most profound statement was: “Those closest to me know that I try to stay forward-focused. Two of my favorite words are ‘over’ and ‘next.’ It’s an attitude that has served me well in a long life of ups and downs, along with a deeply felt appreciation for the absurdity of the human condition.”


Over and next. I couldn’t think of two better words to use as a tool to seamlessly move ahead as we travel and live in the Eternal Now. Over signals releasing something instead of lugging it with us as we step across the threshold into a new room of the Eternal Now. Next reminds us to welcome and embrace what we find in the space we have just entered.


Lear said these two words have kept him forward-focused. It tells me he doesn’t preoccupy himself with the past or the future. Instead, he gives his full attention to where he is in the eternal present. I think Irish poet John O’Donohue’s poem, Fluent, is an apt description of a human desire Lear fulfilled living in the Eternal Now. O'Donohue write:


I would love to live

Like a river flows, 

Carried by the surprise

Of its own unfolding.


That certainly sounds like a delightful way to live. And perhaps, Lear living a delightful life may explain why he has delighted so many.


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