August 8     

Today's quotation:

There are those of us who are prisoners of the future.  We don't know what will happen but we worry so much that the future becomes a kind of prison.  The real future is made only of one substance, and that is the present.  What else can the future be made of?  If we know how to take care of the present moment the best we can, that's all we can do to assure ourselves of a good future.  We build the future by taking care of the present moment.

Thich Nhat Hanh

How to Walk

Today's Meditation:

I used to worry a lot about the future because I was scared it would keep on being like the past and present.  When things weren't going well and I was dealing with depression, for example, I used to be afraid that the depression would last forever and that my future would always be just as bad as the present.  Nowadays, though, I try to stay more focused on the present moment.  I prepare for the future and I consider it often, but I don't think about it too much because I'd rather stay involved in what's going on in the here and now.

Much of the worry that we go through has to do with the future, and the more we immerse ourselves in the idea of what may happen tonight or tomorrow or the next day, the less we're able to enjoy and make the most of the present.  If my mind is in the future, then I'm going to miss a lot of what I'm doing right now.  It's hard to stay focused on a conversation with a friend right now when I'm thinking about something that may or may not happen hours or days from now.

The irony is that when we spend our time focused on the future, we're very often keeping ourselves from preparing well for it.  If I'm thinking only about next week, then it's hard for me to make sure that I've done all I can to make sure that things go well next week.  The truth is, though, that the future exists only in our minds-- by the time it gets here, it's called the present, and wise people consistently tell us that we're going to do ourselves the most good by dealing well with the present and not filling our minds with the maybe's of the days to come.

We can make educated guesses, but we really can't tell what the future is going to bring us.  Some people, though, are trapped by the future, thinking mostly about next week or next year or their upcoming vacations while neglecting the here and now.  And by neglecting what we're doing now, we can definitely be sabotaging the chances we have of creating the bright future that we hope to have.

Questions to consider:

Why do so many people spend so much time thinking about what's coming up instead of what's happening now?

What kinds of things can you do right now that will make tomorrow brighter?

What does it mean to be a "prisoner" of the future?
For further thought:

The future is not a result of choices among alternative paths offered by the present, but a place that is created--created first in the mind and will, created next in activity. The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating.

John Schaar

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