Enjoying the moment and the place--the "Here and Now"

Junko Edahiro

It was the second year into my master's courses when I decided to find work right after finishing my master's degree instead of pursuing a doctorate. I worked very hard to get into a university when I was in high school. When I was an undergraduate, I worked hard again to enroll in a master's program and then succeeded in going on to graduate school. However, I found that the fulfillment and happiness that I expected at that moment never came, despite all of my efforts.

I thought that I would have to continue putting off living and enjoying "the moment" while striving to enter a doctorate program, preparing to climb the ladder of success in the academic field. I would start as an assistant, then become a lecturer, then an assistant professor, and finally a professor. I decided step off that ladder realizing that the future I was working toward would eat away at the precious moments that I could enjoy otherwise. I couldn't bear such an idea.

Since then,--(I'm sure it was actually well before then) "Here and Now" have been my important keywords. I had lived to prepare for the future. I spent 90 percent of my time preparing for it and 10 percent living for the moment. I remember the feeling I had when I completed graduate school. I thought, "I am now using 30 percent of my time preparing for the future, and spending 70 percent of my time enjoying "the current moment." I was deeply relieved to realize that fact.

It is difficult to stay in and enjoy every moment with 100 percent energy and attention. During our daily activities, we can’t help but think about such things as the next day's meetings and responsibilities or feel anxious about the future. It is difficult to give full attention to whoever we are with, as we are thinking about the next person we have to meet. There are also those rude (or should I say busy?) people who talk on cellphones, perhaps preparing for their next meeting or setting up an appointment.

Facing the Here and Now, enjoying every moment and occasion in our lives means paying full attention to ourselves and people who are with us. Sometimes it is tough. You may avoid facing the Here and Now by doing mindless things, such as keeping the TV on to divert your attention from reality.

I believe, however, enjoying every moment and occasion--the Here and Now--leads us to a happy and enriched life. You can feel close and connected with people around you. You can be who you are. You can listen to the soft flow of air, slight sounds and faint scents. It is a moment when you think about people living far away from you and feel connected with the past--people, animals and plants. The past lies among the current.

Instead of living in a diluted "moment" for a "better tomorrow" and "some day's happiness," I can enjoy and live in the "here and now." I became an organizing member and promoter of Candle Night for the purpose of providing such an opportunity for everyone.

During Candle Night, some children may light matches for the first time in their lives. Some men might use Candle Night as an opportunity to enjoy a wonderful moment with his family. He might say, "Someone told me about Candle Night. How about doing this together?

It is, of course, still important to discuss the current issues and problems we face and to fight for what we believe. However, to feel a passionate burst of energy for "enjoyable things" seems much more effective than being "non-" or "anti-" something.

Some people appreciate the concepts of "acting is better than thinking," "feeling is better than considering," and "being immersed is better than discussing." Some are excited to watch the Candlescape on the web, finding the possibility of IT technology satisfying to the human imagination.

So far, "lighting up" has been appreciated. "Lighting," "using up," and "working hard," were concepts related to desired things. However, when you try to "dim the lights," "turn off the lights," "not to use anything," and "not to work hard," do you feel you are using less energy to do so? (In a real sense, this is saving energy!)

A candle is an independent object. It sheds light every moment, in the Here and Now without being supported by electric power, and then it burns out. When we face up to lighting a candle on a quiet night, I believe we may stand up to the entrance of the world of the Here and Now.

After spending a Candle Night on the evening of the summer solstice, I have since enjoyed three personal Candle Nights. I think the next Candle Night will be on the night of the winter solstice or the next summer solstice. However, we can enjoy a Candle Night anytime. It is not meant to be just an annual or biannual event. I would like to have time to rethink the fast-paced life and to slow it down under the candlelight.

Junko Edahiro
Environmental Journalist
Co-Founder, Co-Chief Executive, Japan for Sustainability

Messages from Promoters of Candle Night--#1

May 8, 2006