Let me begin by admitting a not-so-secret secret of mine — I am awful at being present. I am generally dwelling on the past or worried about the future. The present tends to escape me quite easily.
I’ve taken courses on meditation. I’ve been in therapy off and on for years. I have quite a bit of self-awareness (more than enough to squash a good self-pity session) and still, I find myself focusing on timelines far different than the one I’m currently treading.
There’s safety in the past — I know what happened, how silly my worries were at the time, and some of my most favorite people exist only there. Realizing that those people and places no longer exist as they do in my memory is one of life’s biggest disappointments. Even if I could recreate the past, nothing would be the same. People change, people die, places change, and — most mystifying of all, I have changed and become an entirely different person than I was even a year ago.
The past is a security blanket I cling to when the present isn’t going well and the future seems too fuzzy.
The future feeds all of my worries. What if this happens, what if it doesn’t, what if things never work out, what if I screw up everything now and nothing matters and everything is pointless? I have spent days and nights debilitated by thoughts and worries about future scenarios that never seem to materialize. Turns out, I am neither prophetic nor entirely rational when it comes to how things might play out — oops.
All that we have control over — and even then, our control is minimal — is the time we have right now. It’s easy to get busy, distracted, lost in everything else demanding your attention (you know, the “grown-up” stuff that turns up being far less cool than you thought it would be when you were younger). The present becomes the past you dwell on and was once the future you worried about. It’s fleeting and frustrating but sometimes it’s exciting and joyous. It’s all we have and most of us miss it.
I have decided that I will no longer focus on the present in its aftermath (past tense) or in terms of what’s next. I’m going to let go of my preconceived expectations and long-held desire for the safety that exists in what has already happened (I’m a different person anyway). I’m going to enjoy the only time I have to make changes and experience life — I’m going to be present. I’m going to fight against my naturally tendency to dwell and worry and I’m going to be here now — I mean, what else is there to do?
So, who’s with me? Let’s let it go…seriously.