As cliché as it may sound, when we are old and grey, most of us will look back and think, “I’d do anything to get that time back”.
If we know this to be true, then why are so many of us waiting life out in jobs we hate, wishing the clock would strike 5pm and Friday would hurry up?
Why are so many of us living in the future, thinking that life is going to happen one day soon when X, Y and Z are achieved?
One day when I…
Next year I will…
When we get the…, we can…
The problem with striving to achieve X, Y and Z is that you quickly create a new A, B and C. The perpetual cycle of desire for better never ends.
We are encouraged to lust after the next best thing, to keep aiming higher and higher; to be better, to have more, to never be content with just enough for now. We end up chasing a fulfilment that doesn’t exist.
But what exactly are we aiming for? Where are we going? And when we get there, what then?
Stuck on autopilot, we forget what it feels like to stop looking ahead. We forget the truth that life is happening now, that it isn’t something that will reveal itself one day and make us whole and happy.
Rarely are we truly mentally present to enjoy the feelings we have, the actions we are taking and the people we are interacting with: We suppress feelings rather than explore and understand them, we engage in a task while thinking of what else needs doing, we go to sleep already living in thoughts of what tomorrow might bring, we work with our minds fixated on what rewards our efforts will bring and, when we do find mental spaciousness, we quickly seek to fill it with a new condition to meet and expectation to fulfil.
To paraphrase the late Alan Watts, I am not saying let’s drink for today because tomorrow we die, that we shouldn’t make any plans.
What I am saying is that making plans for the future is only of use to those who are capable of living completely in the present.
Because those unable to live in the present will never fully live those plans anyway.
One day tomorrow will not come.
We will all die. Each day is a step closer to our ultimate demise.
Our time is limited.
So slow down, take a look around and breathe it, feel it, touch it, smell it, love it and live it in your own unique way.
For the last thing you want to do is die and realise you haven’t truly lived.