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  • Writer's pictureHoward Thompson

The Carjacking Life

Mindfulness, is the practice of being fully present and engaged with the here and now, aware of both your physical and spiritual states. Several months ago I devoted some time to study and prayer on the subject. The state of mindfulness stands in contrast to being distracted by past regrets, future anxieties, extraneous thoughts or physical distractions. Living in the moment with mindfulness doesn’t mean you neglect the past or ignore the future. It's about being fully engaged with the current experience, which can lead to greater enjoyment, fulfilment, and a deeper connection to life.

Interestingly, during this period of contemplation and prayer, my YouTube feed presented a seemingly unrelated video titled, "Woman escapes armed carjacking in Oakland." Intrigued by its brief 45-second duration, I clicked. The dash-cam footage showed a woman driving on a secluded road in the Oakland hills. When another car suspiciously slowed down and then abruptly blocked her way, two masked and armed individuals emerged, attempting to open her doors. Thankfully, the woman managed to swiftly manoeuvre her car past the obstructions and escape without harm.

While I was no stranger to the menace of carjackings, especially in the U.S., this video prompted an unexpected train of thought. My initial reaction was of disbelief, questioning the perpetrators' rationale and their chances of evasion. However, my recent rumination on mindfulness soon intersected with these thoughts. I found myself pondering, "Is this a representation of living in the moment?"

Upon reflection, I recognised a distinction: the actions in the video illustrated "living for the moment" rather than "living in the moment." As previously mentioned, mindfulness emphasises being present without ignoring the ramifications of past actions or potential future outcomes. The impulsive mindset displayed in the carjacking was far removed from my belief that every action carries consequences echoing into eternity.

Deepening my introspection, I acknowledged that maintaining mindfulness is a transient state, perhaps not a "stable state," as one might term it in the physical sciences. Even with a staunch commitment to mindfulness, the slightest distraction can disrupt this state. There might seem a vast cognitive divide between an individual resorting to carjacking and my own thought processes, but in reality, I too occasionally prioritise the immediate moment over the holistic picture. I am not immune to decisions influenced by selfishness and the lure of instant gratification, rather than rooted in rationale, empathy, and divine love.

This introspective journey underscores the importance of recognising the pitfalls of yielding to the fleeting allure of immediate gratification, of the "carjacking life." I'm reminded of a passage from "The Last Judgement" by Emanuel Swedenborg that possibly encapsulates this sentiment:

[Once a person cuts themselves off from an inflow of life from the Lord, which they do by a life in complete opposition to the Lord’s teaching, the life they do have is] like that of animals. Once people are like this, they cannot be formed into a community and restrained by the bonds of law, because without an inflow from heaven, that is, without being governed by the Divine, people become insane and, forsaking all self-control, plunge into every kind of unspeakable behaviour toward each other. (Last Judgment 10)

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