For those of us with more years in the rear view mirror than on the road ahead time takes on greater importance as a teacher. The lesson is “there is only now.” It’s a message that younger folks can opt into as well, although it is easier to embrace in our later years.

First, a disclaimer: by “only now” I do not mean living merely for the moment without caring about the impact of our behavior on ourselves and others. That is an indulgent prescription for hurt and harm.

My point is that most of us spend too much time reliving the past, even when part of us knows that it can’t be redone. Or, we fast forward to a fanciful future as an anesthetic for our stress. Much is going on in what we call now. Recognizing it and integrating it can alter not only the instant but the trajectory of the day.

My work with horses has reinforced this. They are fully present, reading and responding to the energy of the moment. Their survival depends on it.

As you read this, what thoughts are surfacing? What do you feel going on inside? Why is that? Paying attention to now may be providing a decision point for transforming your day. If not, whether intentionally or mindlessly, the moment has passed and with it the possibility of insight and a new beginning.

When we are with another person, are we truly present? What message is she communicating? What feelings does he express? What does her sharing surface in us? Are we truly hearing him, or are we focused on fashioning a snappy reply?

When we pay attention, each now opens a new world of possibility.