I was having to think about the phrase ‘all we have is now’ because I wanted to enter a competition to illustrate it for a brand. Interesting methought, this is a provocation since on the surface it seems like a pretty motivating soundbite. But then again…..perhaps this is not quite the positive idea is appears on first encounter. It seems to be a promise that making the current moment the one that matters, but this can only lead inevitably to a recognition of meaninglessness. Thus a provocation of self expression, something we consider necessary for self-develpment, in actuality results in a despair of existential angst. If ‘all that we have is now’ becomes a mantra of the modern age, then where belong the memories of yesterday, yesteryear and yester aeon – and where do we look for dreams and goals, for outcomes dependant on a complexity of past and present strategies?
Camus shows the emptiness of living purely in the present through his character Meursault in The Stranger, a character whose life is empty of the shade offered by self reflection.
‘This is the paradox Meursault makes flesh; for him, only life lived in the moment – the moment our bodies register sensations sweeping over them- is meaningful. Yet indifferent to the past and future, he is incapable of grasping whatever meaning there is to be found.’ Zaretsky – A life worth living.
None of us live purely in the present, we live in a landscape inhabited by ghosts and frequented by hopes. The here and now is the vivid, the sensed, the felt; but the here and now can only be valuable in the context of a past and a promise of the future. We act with conscience and with hope and it is only by knowing the present is not the only moment we have, that makes the now a beautiful and a tragic experience.
Now how do I illustrate THAT!!