Be here now but know where you’re going

If you have been reading my blog for a while you would be aware of the emphasis I lay, in my life and on this blog, on living in the present. And ‘the present’ refers to this moment right now, not the one that will come in a few seconds or minutes from now. There is no way of knowing for sure what would happen in the near or distant future. You could win a lottery i.e. if you had participated in one or be buried under a pile of emotional problems. One really cannot tell.

The problem is that ‘living in the present’ is easier said than done for many reasons chief among which is ‘the habit’ of mostly if not always being physically present in one place and mentally another. We are conditioned to live this way because that’s what we have always seen people around us do. We are also attached to the past or hold on to burdens of guilt, regret and grudges that we have been unable to let go. Additionally we cling to our expectations of the future and invest much energy and time wishing for a long list of things that would make us happy (mind you it’s all guesswork because half the time we get those things and continue to remain unhappy). But if we do manage to overcome the many distractions and obstacles and learn to live in the present, do we stop planning for a future altogether? Does living in the present moment imply not spending any time thinking about what is to come? That is the question I want to talk about today.

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We spend much energy and time wishing and planning for a future that we think would make us happy.  PC: Allef Vicinus

The thing with time is that it is an entity that really just flows. It is hard to differentiate between the present and the future as two distinct entities because they are not. I have contemplated many, many times if there is any point at all in planning for the future. Was not living in the current moment enough because life is made up of a very large number of current moments? And if we get our current moments right then their sum should work out fine too, should it not?

I lived this way for a few years i.e. without any planning whatsoever. My conclusion at the end of it was that it doesn’t hurt to have a plan or a direction. Think of a raindrop for example and its life’s timeline. The moment it leaves the cloud, it is present at a certain point in the universe and present at that point alone. But that’s not where its story ends. It has a direction that it is going in and although it is quite possible that a gust of wind could come and sweep it into a completely new direction or blast it into many smaller drops, the possibility does not stop it from working to move in a certain direction. What has to come will come, it chooses a direction anyway.

We are not very different from the raindrop. What has to come will come but it does help to have a direction that we want to go in. And if we do not attach to our goals (dreams, expectations, the entire gamut of it) it is not impossible to completely live in the present yet have a sense of direction for one’s future.

Irrespective of where you are and what you want to do in your future, remember that this moment will only last so long. You will not get to experience the smells, the emotions, the beauty or even the calamity of this moment again once it passes. To do it justice, to do your life made up of countless current moments justice, one has to learn to live in the now and to completely let go off that which has passed. If you can live this moment fully and consequently many such moments fully, you can hope to live a full life. Otherwise you choose (yes, choose) to remain suspended in the past or the future and lose the present as well.

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Pick a direction for the future but do not let it become an excuse to escape your present and live in a time that is yet to come or might never come.  PC: Justin Tietsworth

Picking a way that you want to go is entirely possible while being present in the now but do not try to get ahead of yourself. Like I said at the beginning of this post, we really cannot tell what the future will bring. Pick a direction but leave it at that. You cannot get there before it is time. You cannot get there without living this moment to its fullest potential. You cannot get there before doing right now what you need to do with all the focus you can muster.

It’s always about THE NOW. Everything else is just complimentary. And life does not work like a pizza delivery company that offers you a choice between garlic bread and cheesy bites to compliment your pizza. Life gives you a future depending on how you choose to live the present, the NOW. Our life choices are ‘the present’ or nothing at all. We cannot choose the future and ignore the present, that DOES NOT work. Which one will you pick then- garlic bread or cheesy bites? 😉 I’ll have them both! 😀

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