Seeing the Present Tense
The writer and dramatist Dennis Potter spoke these following words in an interview near the end of his life. He knew he was dying of cancer. I remember seeing this interview on TV and being deeply moved by the integrity and passion he displayed when speaking about his work, the future of television and the experience of facing death. It illustrates how the nearness of death can sharpen our connection to life but moreover, in reading these words, we are reminded to open ourselves to what Potter calls ‘the nowness of everything’, regardless of where in our life-journey we are. It struck me as poignant that as Potter made his observation about the blossom of spring, he was facing the deeper mysteries of a very different season…and yet he could make space for both with an acceptance and gratitude that was truly inspiring. It is the challenge we all face everyday of our lives as humans: to bear witness to the joy and suffering without losing our wonder.
. . . at this season, the blossom is out in full now, there in the west early. It’s a plum tree, it looks like apple blossom but it’s white, and looking at it, instead of saying “Oh that’s nice blossom” … last week looking at it through the window when I’m writing, I see it is the whitest, frothiest, blossomest blossom that there ever could be, and I can see it. Things are both more trivial than they ever were, and more important than they ever were, and the difference between the trivial and the important doesn’t seem to matter. But the nowness of everything is absolutely wondrous, and if people could see that, you know. There’s no way of telling you; you have to experience it, but the glory of it, if you like, the comfort of it, the reassurance … not that I’m interested in reassuring people – bugger that. The fact is, if you see the present tense, boy do you see it! And boy can you celebrate it. ~ Dennis Potter
Awesome. Thanks Philip.
beautifull, ‘without losing our wonder’ : is so important when there is a great deal of suffering, we can still marvel at the way a flower is designed….
I remember that last interview well, and how moved I was by it. Thank you for posting his words, and reminding me. The same quality is present in the poem ‘Japanese Maple’ that I saw posted this week. It’s written by Clive James, who is 74 and coming close to death. The ‘nowness of everything’; so good to remember this in every season.