One day, your eyes will close, never to open again.

One day, the eyes of your children will close, never to open again, never again to see dawn over Earth.

We are here but for a moment, in a cacophony of light, sound and scent which ought to completely overwhelm our senses.

The universe has probably seen thinking and creating civilisations like ours before, and probably will again. But it is likely that at this very moment, we are alone. The universe is enormous, empty and long-lasting. Its intelligent civilisations are short-lived and scattered — nothing but momentary sparks of consciousness in a vast and abandoned arena. One of these rare sparks contains the lives we lead, which in turn are so insignificant that the mind balks at trying to find an apt metaphor.

I suppose I am trying to say that your life is rare and short. And that you will never return to this place again.

There are times when I feel frustrated, when trying to put my anarchist kids to bed for example, or when rushing them to daycare so that I can get to work. At those times, my children’s cooperation is all that I have capacity to wish for. Other times I find myself surrounded by loved ones, but with a mind full to the brim with trivial things; a piece of code yet to be written, work-related complications, a heap of gravel blocking the driveway, someone being wrong on the Internet. In the midst of this, I am at times blessed with a violent realisation. As if a knee had been driven into my solar plexus. I will die, my children will die, and this will happen very soon.

I am thankful for that knee in my stomach, a memento mori that immediately sets my priorities straight and sets pause to my churning mind. I become harmonious, I let the kids take all the time they need, I forget about that pile of dirt on the driveway, I shed my keyboard warrior armour and don the full regalia of the present moment. I start living.

Getting from one moment to the next is not to be alive. Being alive is to fully inhabit your place and your time within that tiny spark of conscious civilisation that is us. To revel in awareness. To celebrate creativity and energy. To mourn and rejoice. To be with the ones we love. To give and to share. To live is to embrace love and freedom in the present moment.

He who is rooted in the present feels no lure in the ownership of material things, nor any need to seek out conflict or to harness other souls. He isn’t constantly on the prowl for distraction and amusement. He doesn’t completely identify with ideas that are attractive to him, he can observe them and value their beauty. Nor does he submerge his emotions in deep antagonism against ideas that are disagreeable to him, he can discriminate them, and let them exist. His mind is a place of cultivation. For him, the time is now, and reality is his friend.

Finding peace for your own part is inextricably bound to the offering of peace onto others. And it requires only your non-participation in coercion. It requires that you do nothing to ensnare or constrain your fellow men when they seek happiness in the only life they shall ever have.

As an analogy; observe all the things that surround you, and make yourself aware of the emptiness that in turn surrounds them. Take note of the capacity of the space between yourself and your walls and how it encompasses the table, the pots on the windowsills and your own body. Notice the emptiness between yours and your neighbour’s house. In all directions you will become aware of this emptiness which girdles our earth like a breezy canvas, and which beyond it expands to every wide expanse of our universe. Realise, that it is space itself that allows for things to exist, just as silence is the non-manifestation which enables the perception of sound.

It is in this accommodating emptiness that I, a non-religious man, perceive of God — as an enabling non-presence, as freedom. It is the absence of coercion that enables freedom, of which voluntary human action is the most beautiful manifestation.

There will always be a time for you to defend what is right and those you love, with your own body as price if need be. There are certainly times which are ripe for intellectual debate and peaceful discourse. But these times cannot be all hours of the day. If you are anything like me, your days are filled with bland moments that simply pass you by, in a jumble of mental stimuli and activity. Now-times which will never return.

Do what you can to not hurt your fellow men. Do what you can to not constrain them or impose your views upon them. Do what you can to remain sceptical and resistant to any and all who assert their truth and power over you. Fill an outstretched hand, if nothing else than with your own. Provide no apology for the ones that do deal in the currency of coercion, of which the foremost actor is the State.

But above all, refuse to provide a hotbed for the dark egos of power by embracing the only thing that can never be taken away from you — the present moment.

And hold the ones that you love. Hold them fiercely. In an instant you will no longer be here.