The saying goes ‘‘live in the moment,’’ I believe. There are a lot of people out there making money and names for themselves teaching us the ancient art of being present.
If you’ve lived this long you’ve probably been told that at least once or twice by someone encouraging you to be serene. I give it a try but here’s the thing: I don’t know if 21st century time works like any other time.
Case in point: Last week after writing another article on the Tanzanian elections that managed to say absolutely nothing about them, I relaxed by casually browsing the news, only to find that Americans had broken the political debate. And then I blinked and President Donald Trump, the great Covid-19 denier, was being rushed to hospital for treatment having tested positive.
In the early days of Trump's presidency, I developed filters for any news of him. It was the unhinged tweeting that did me in, and I thank him for the ensuing measures to get away from overwhelming online content. For news and views, I occasionally check in with late night and weekly American comedy shows on the internet to find out what is happening, and when I say occasionally I mean almost never.
When I took a peek at the coverage of the presidential candidates debate between President Trump and Joe Biden I remembered why nobody should stare at scenes of carnage for too long. When Senator Biden told President Trump to “just shut up,” out of sheer frustration during the debate, it was over.
There are many of us in the Fellowship of Shocked Disbelief.
It is old news now, but this debate is an event everyone should try to witness. Everything is preserved for posterity on the internet, our eternal present, anyway. Only watch what you can, no more than five minutes — I am not trying to break the Geneva Convention here by torturing folks. It is probably one of the watershed moments of our incredibly colourful year. It nails part of the global zeitgeist when it comes to ‘leadership.’ Dar es Salaam, Washington — show me the difference?
And I almost missed it.
There is a lesson in here about being present in your moment and constantly chasing the most current ‘now,’ in fashion or society or especially the news. With certain events, like Trump or the Tanzanian elections, the day-to-day minutiae might make for excellent content but there comes a point where it is also empty content- noise.
As of the time of writing this column, Mr Trump has made a recovery and it looks like he will be around to bury us in a torrent of word salad.
The Tanzanian General Election is forging ahead, perhaps even with a united opposition front. I’ll let you know, but I won’t actually be watching in real time. I will be too busy being in the moment for that.
Here is to your mental health and mine in the balancing of being present with the practice of deliberation.
Elsie Eyakuze is an independent consultant and blogger for The Mikocheni Report.