Be In The Now
Imagine a timeline of your life. On the far left, the very first point represents your birth, the very moment you came in to this world. The far right is an open-ended continuum which represents your future. The middle, the most central point, is the present day, exactly where you are. All too often our focus and attention, feelings and emotions, swing like a pendulum from left to right, from the past to the future, swinging right by the present moment, the Now.
The pendulum was initially used for timekeeping, and was the most accurate timekeeping method until the 1930's. The mechanics of a pendulum is quite simple, a weight on the end of a mass-less cord, suspended from a pivot, without friction. When given an initial push, it will swing back and forth at a constant amplitude. While the pendulum swings, it accelerates through the middle, reaching peak velocity in the center. It then slows as it reaches one end, pausing but for a moment, then turning back and accelerating in the opposite direction again. The pendulum repeats its swing over and over until an external force, friction and drag, eventually stops its momentum.
Now, going back to the timeline of our life. The analogy here is that our focus and attention are like that of the pendulum, swinging from our past to our future, rushing from one to the other, with only a fraction of time spent in the present moment.
Reminiscing on the positive past events of our lives can be quite fulfilling, and give us fuel to keep forging ahead in life. We see the accomplishments and achievements we've made, the mountains we've climbed, and the battles we've won. We feel proud of what we've done and how far we've come. This boosts confidence, and gives us hope for what's to come and a strong prediction of where we're headed. The slippery slope though, comes when we focus too much on the negative events of the past, the failures, the losses, the defeats. We look at our physical and emotional scars through the filter of regret, sorrow, guilt, remorse, and disappointment. Too long spent with these rattling around in our hearts and minds can distract us, holding our attention prisoner, paralyzing us from moving forward.
When we turn our attention to the future though, we anticipate whats to come. We're hopeful for an abundance of good things. We envision the best possible outcomes of what's ahead. We plan diligently, creating goals and strategies to reach them. We analyze, we play the "what if" word game. Yes, the ones who are intentional with planning their future, whether it be health, relational, spiritual, financial, etc. tend to have more success than those that fly by the seat of their pants. Proactive vs reactive. Planning ahead is a good thing, and important thing. But if we analyze too long, we are at risk for the infamous paralytic disease known as "analysis paralysis", where we over analyze our future, our plans, our potential successes and potential failures, ultimately leading to no action at all. This is when anticipation and hopefulness turns to stress, anxiety, and worry. We lose sight of what could go right, and what could go wrong becomes our focal point. Either way, spending too much time planning, preparing, hoping, anticipating, stressing out, anxious, or worried about what's to come, the present moment(s) slip right past us without us even knowing. The clock keeps ticking whether we're paying attention or not. We end up in one of those moments where we say to ourselves, "time flies". It really doesn't, that just our perception, but more on that in another blog.
The past is the past, we should learn from it. The future is unpredictable and there's no guarantee, but we can plan for it. What is guaranteed is the present moment where you are. The one thing you have, is the moment right now. So Be In The Now.
Life is beautiful, all of it, the good and the bad. We wouldn’t know joy without pain, we wouldn’t appreciate day without night, warmth without cold, we wouldn’t value the present without the past, and we wouldn’t value the future without the present. Be part of life, not just moving through it. Engage with it. Connect with it. Accept the present as a present. Take time to enjoy where you are, what you’re doing, who you’re with, what you see, what you hear, what you smell, and what you feel. Observe the beauty of life, the joy of being alive, and the wonderful world around you. The best present you could give to another, your spouse, your children, your parents, your partner, your friends, and most of all, to yourself, is to be present, to Be In The Now…