The only way I was ever able to learn how to live in
the present moment was to learn what it means to try to
live in the past or future. It's simply a matter of
where our thoughts are. Are they on the things that
are a part of our reality at this moment, or are they on
the insults from yesterday or the wonderful vacation last
month? Are they on the movie I'm going to see
tomorrow or the trip I'll take three weeks from now?
While some thought to things like these can be important,
too much time spent thinking about them can keep us from
the joys and responsibilities of the right now.
I used to agonize over mistakes that I had made. I
would think about them for days, sure that someone was mad
at me or disappointed with me. I came to learn that
while I was spending tons of mental energy on such
thoughts--and missing many pleasant moments in the
present--other people had completely forgotten my
mistakes, or hadn't even noticed them in the first place.
It's been widely said that the only moment we can possibly
live in is the present moment. If we try to live
anywhere else in time, we're only remembering or hoping,
but always about times over which we have absolutely no
control. As Jane says, this is a form of denial, but
it's also a form of avoidance. My actions at this
moment shape my future, and if I avoid acting, I can blame
my future on forces outside of myself. But if we
take responsibility for our own lives and fill this
present moment with a focus on what we need to do and with
giving and sharing and showing love, then moment by moment
we're building a life that truly contributes to this world
in which we live, and the other people and living things
in it and on it.
It is easier to focus on the past or future; because it's
impossible to act in either, it allows us to spend time
without being compelled to act at all. But if our
actions are loving and giving, it's a tragedy to spend
time without contributing those acts to our world.
What you do right now is very important to many, and it's
a great thing if you can make your present full of
positive, loving acts.