Summer is about expanding horizons, but it’s also a chance to look at some familiar things in a new way.
We introduced Sarah Cahalan, our new assistant editor, to you in the “About” section of our last issue. She’s fitting in fine here and getting to know her way around the Granite State like the fast learner she is. And since we’re happily confident she’s going to stick around for a while, I feel comfortable using her as an object lesson in this note.
Sarah and I had a talk in her newly decorated workspace the other day and I noticed she had a hand-lettered poster on display bearing the words “Be here now.”
I, being a child of the 1960s, immediately responded: “Hey. Baba Ram Dass!”
Sarah gave me one of those looks I get so often when I forget that most of the world had not yet been born during the decades when I was avoiding growing up.
“That’s the title of his book,” I added, helpfully. “‘Be Here Now.’ It was a kind of a New Age bible back in the day. Taught a generation of Americans about the basics of Eastern philosophy.”
She nodded, indulgently. “I just like to be reminded,” she said.
It was a good response, so I restrained myself from mansplaining how Ram Dass had been an early colleague of acid guru Timothy Leary; how he took a turn to religious mysticism while Leary took a more chemical route; or how he had been a regular visitor to our Lakes Region in his later days. As a newcomer to New Hampshire, Sarah has more important things to learn. Besides, as she noted, you don’t have to read one of Ram Dass’ books to appreciate a daily moment of Zen.
Back in the day, Ram Dass brought what we now call “mindfulness” into cultural parlance, but at the time it seemed pretty exotic. I guess you could say that to really get “Be Here Now” you had to have been there, then. But I like the mindfulness trend in contemporary culture. It makes sense. It means pay attention, but more than that. It encourages us to see ordinary things — both big and small — in new ways and respond to them as thoughtfully and meaningfully as possible.
It’s hard to argue with that.
So, as a supplement to this year’s June issue — devoted as always to helping you explore the entire state for vacation pleasures — I’m recommending Sarah’s cubicle poster as an important reminder to you too.
While searching for the “epic” in your summer vacation, keep a mindful eye out for the small things. The delights of summer in the Granite State are sometimes as expansive as a mountaintop view, but more often they are just memorable moments spent with friends, old and new — opportunities to truly be here now.