Live while you are living

Photo by Steve Kramer

Time is such an interesting phenomenon. It is fundamentally a concept created by humanity to help shape one’s reality; to help one to relate to one’s self and the universe. We are constantly trying to understand it. We created it but may not be clear on what exactly we created. Yet it is pretty much the foundation of every life.

So what is time? A basic yet profound definition is “a series of events in which change occurs”. No change. No time.  Simple right? Most of us view time as a linear progression. Past. Now. Future. One leading into the next. And here is where it starts getting complex. Because we need to decide which part of the process we chose to live in.


Let me diverge for a bit. I recently began journeying into another reality. Call it the blog universe (incidentally multiple realities is an integral part of time theory). One of the beauties of visiting this reality is that our ideas feed each other. This current ramble is a direct result of  two postings on other blogs (What Happens Next? and Embracing the unknown unknowns). Both were talking about fear of the future and the difficulty of dealing with the unknown. Which started a thought process within me. Or rather restarted.

OK divergence completed. But maybe a little perspective as to where I am going. We all move through time. Every moment takes us “forward”. The past becomes a trail “behind” us, the future an unknown path “before” us. A pretty simple progression. Yet where we choose to focus our attention has a very profound effect on our very happiness.

Huh? again.

I am staying with my parents. My dad has Alzheimer’s. He effectively lives in the past. My mother is always worried about the future. She is so future focused that she will be worried about how to get home from somewhere a week before she even gets there. So she effectively lives in the future. I, on the other hand, am a very now focused person. I am a firm believer in living in the moment. So my household covers all the bases. So who do you think is the happiest person?

Living in the past is unproductive. It causes stress because either we wish things now would be the way they were (even though our memory usually makes it better than it actually was), or because we can’t let our mistakes go. The basic fact of the matter is that the past is past and can not be changed (at least in the linear view of time). We can learn from our mistakes. We can get refreshment from pleasant memories. But living in the past means missing now, and definitely not being prepared for the yet to be. Hmmmm.

Photo by Steve Kramer

So let’s look at living in the future. We are moving “forward” into the future. Makes sense to anticipate what will happen. That way we can be prepared for it; as well as create the future we wish to happen. But there is a difference between LOOKING TOWARDS the future and living IN it. Living in it means again we miss the now. We are so focused on the yet to be, on knowing the unknowable, that we give our selves stress. Create fear. And the thing is we will never know it, because by the time we reach the future we were worried about, we will already be worried about something further along. Wether it comes out how we hoped or not. Hmmmm.

Photo by Steve Kramer

That leaves living now. “Now” is the only moment that we can truly effect. The past has already occurred. The future is dependent on the choices we make now. And while the moment may not always be one filled with joy, it is happening now. Thus “now” is the only moment we can truly “know” too. The past will be modified by both the effectiveness of our memories and how we choose to perceive it; the future won’t be created until we make the choices placed before us now. But there is danger in living too much in the moment too. Because if we forget what we have learned from the past we may make the same mistakes again. And if we ignore the future, then we are not prepared for the consequences of the choices we make now. Hmmmm.

So what exactly am I saying? Remember the past. It has shaped who we are today, and can teach us well how to deal with new things (or how not to make painful mistakes). Look toward the future. Plan even. But do not fear the unknown. Just be prepared for it. Be aware of the consequences of choices, but don’t make the choices until you are faced with them. And embrace the now. Fully appreciate the moment you are in, for you will never get a chance to appreciate that moment again.