Alan Alda Writes of Living for Now

After a near-death experience, Alan Alda, the star of "M*A*S*H," has written a new book about making every life moment count -- and he looked to the past for inspiration.

Alan Alda: It was this wonderful guy 2,000 years ago who was an emperor of Rome [and] who was also a great writer -- a wonderful combination, because he had a lot of experience and he could put it into words -- Marcus Aurelius. And he said, "All we have is now." What an amazing thing. He figured this out 2,000 years before scientists had figured out the same thing.

Scientists have told me that our understanding of now just lasts for five seconds. Everything before that is memory or planning for the future. There's just this five-second period when we're in the now. ... And what I found that gives me the greatest sense of being alive, I think, is trying to find out how to stay in that now that Marcus Aurelius talked about.

Those moments, driving in a car with my grandkids, when I say something to them or they say something to me and something comes out that we didn't expect, but we're there for each other and we experience it -- I think that gives me the most pleasure in life. That's what I hope for.

You can read an excerpt of his book, "Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself," at the link in the related stories field of this page.