Before you get to the “ow” of “NOW” the idea itself is already in the past. It’s a unique word in that way, the only one I can think of that negates itself as it is said. NOW is a difficult thing to truly define. Maybe it takes practice. An exercise: Take your thumb and forefinger and press them into each other as hard as you can stand. Think about that sustained pressure, that almost-pain, and hold it. Your body is telling you something NOW. With enough focus even that minor stimulation is enough to let the rest of it fade away, if only for a moment. Shifting from what was or could be, to what is, to the present, which is not yet available to interpretation. Our pasts aren’t accurate. What I recall is whatever actually happened after it’s been run through my brain, once a game of telephone has been replayed over and over again. The events of my life become idealized, cast in a die, ready to be called up for interpretation. NOW release your grip. Were you still holding it? As that not-quite-pain fades away it has already lost any significance in the present. Here and then not.
This experiment wasn’t some cataclysmic event that changes your life permanently. But it is a moment captured, all the same. It’s these billions of little overlapping NOWs (the vast majority of which slip away innocently) that shape who you are, how you react to the world around you, who you could possibly become. The big and the small ones are caught in the same psychic net, providing production design for your dreams and fodder for those forthcoming Freudian slips.
Right NOW I’m writing this. That is to say, I just wrote it. You just read it. As soon as you can think about it, it’s in the past and already changing. Right NOW I’m in my apartment fucked up on Klonopins and that ever-present hash haze, listening to this and transcribing it. NOW I’m walking next to the BQE, (two days ago) on my way to get a haircut, dictating this into my phone. A blinking orange hand says, says, “Hey, pay attention, you’re about to get run over by a Ford F-150.” A delivery man rides by on a bicycle, looking at me strangely. A girl in pink pants smiles, turning away and then back, trying to figure out why I am looking at her while talking into my inverted phone. BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! Then, of course, someone has to honk on their horn and then someone else mashes their little joy buzzer, like rich kids in plastic miniature cars, peddled by their shrunken sneakers, trying vainly to get their parent’s attention. This is my time, right NOW! right NOW!
This is no longer my NOW, either. This is in print, and soon it won’t be your NOW either. I propose a slow recovery from our modern affliction. Stop reading this, stop Twitter-graming while your food (or conversation) is getting cold. Our obsession with bottling our NOWs is keeping us at arms length from our own lives. Merely autobots acting as interns for our sequestered selves. Gather some real fucking NOW, however it is that you like it. Before and after doesn’t belong to you anyway, only this very moment does. Another exercise: Take a deep breath through your nostrils and think about: _________.