May 8th 2019
Tomorrow, you’re always a day away~
Ever since we were young, we were always encouraged to think about our future. From the earliest points in our education, we have been asked to think about what we want to be when we grow up, who we want to be when we grow up, and what kind of things and people we want to surround ourselves with. However, at no point we were taught to deal with the unknowns and uncertainty of the future.
Now, as adults, many of us are still living future oriented lives filled with anxiety and doubts that we will ever live up to our own expectations. We spend days waiting for things to turn out the way we always envisioned and as a result many of us, myself included, look towards the future with a twinge of discomfort and fear of what is left undecided.
I have always been incredibly future-minded. I love reading horoscopes for fun and doing tarot readings and, although I don’t live my life by them, I often find myself getting wrapped up in fantasies of a future that may never happen. However, with my upcoming move from New York to North Carolina, envisioning my future has become harder than ever before and that fuzziness in my mental crystal ball has left me feeling on edge.
I am entering such uncharted territory which has caused me to think a lot about the amount of pressure we put on the future and how many of us forget to live in the present moment.
So what does it mean to be present? Well, by definition, it means to be in a particular space. To be present in the moment boils down to that particular space being this moment in time. So, in order to be truly present, one must only be thinking on the immediate moment and not focusing on the tasks of the day or what will happen tomorrow or who they will marry in 5 years. Being present is being fully aware of yourself and your surroundings right here and now.
Right now, I am sitting in bed typing this post. My laptop is in front of me and I am sitting cross-legged with a blanket across my lap. You, reading this, may be in front of a desktop computer at a desk. Or maybe you are reading on your phone in bed or on a train or a plane or in the car or at the park or wherever you may be. Or perhaps you are on a laptop at a local coffee shop working on your own blog, or homework, or another personal project, or just enjoying some peaceful time alone.
You may be any of these places doing any of those things, but are you present? Has this post anchored you to your current moment or have you been pausing and thinking about what you need to get done today or what you should have for dinner or about that person who hasn’t texted you back in a bit? I do all of those things regularly which is why I’m asking.
So how do you return to your present moment when your mind wanders? I think about what I’ve learned in meditation. I begin to focus my attention on my physical environment and my surroundings. I use my senses to find where I am in this current moment and focus on being there.
I see my hands typing out the words that you are reading. I feel the blanket on my lap, the keys under my fingers, the weight of my elbows resting on my knees. I hear through my window, the muffled sound of birds and the sound of a plane flying overhead. That is what right now feels like.
Right now, I am focusing on writing this blog post and I am trying not to focus on anything else. I am not focusing on what I will do after I write this post and you should not be focusing on what you should do after reading this post because that isn’t the present moment so that doesn’t matter.
So when is it okay to think about the future? When it is relevant. (This is something I haven’t perfected yet and I’m not even close, but at least I know when to police my thoughts, haha) Try to only think of the future when you need to. But when is that?
Well, an example would be that I am currently job hunting which is a future oriented activity. I need to think about the future in order to make an educated decision when applying for jobs. Is the job located somewhere I can reach easily? Are the schedule and travel expectations conducive to my life? Is the pay something I can sustain myself on? Is it something I can see myself doing for at least a year? This is an appropriate time to think in terms of the future.
An example of a moment where it would be better to be present is when thinking of the future is not practical or comforting. If you are thinking about how you’re getting old and you’re still alone and you’re wondering if you’re ever going to meet someone and get married, that’s bad future thinking and it is way better to just be present. Worrying about who you will marry doesn’t have a practical application in the present like future-thinking in job hunting does. This kind of future thinking is just causing you unrest and you are better off being present.
It is okay to enjoy a little fantasy about the future or to get excited about an upcoming event, but the moment you start compromising your emotional stability is the moment that you need to return to the here and now and focus only on what’s important in the present.
The future will always be there, but you only have one now, live it.