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Many of us are constantly locked in two experiences: the past and the future.
The past, our ever-present companion of memory, holds onto us tightly as we then tip in the other direction, directing our thoughts and energy to the future.
We almost hover between these two states, dismissing the most important time we have: the present moment.
In fact, some have said that the past and the future don’t exist except in our mind—because truly, every moment of the past was once a moment just like this one and every moment of the future will be lived in the present tense.
Pretty trippy, right?
How many of us have fretted about an upcoming meeting, exam, or important event without being aware of the power we possess at this moment to change that “future” experience? How many of us have worried about the outcome without putting in some effort right now toward the outcome we desire? How many of us have unconsciously decided that there is nothing we can do because of our past?
A lot of us give away the power and vitality we have in this second, minute, and hour. And many of us don’t know how to properly use time to our advantage and for our pleasure.
I was a born future tripper. If there was something out there in the scary unknown of the future, I was worried about it.
I realize now, in my early 40s, how much time I have wasted, lost, and gambled away being concerned about things that never happened. That time should have been treated like precious gold. Instead, I threw it down the drain like day-old soda.
Time is the one resource we cannot get back and we can’t create more of it (all we can do is just use what we do have more consciously and wisely).
But, there is good news—because we always have the present moment. And as many spiritual seekers and scholars have written about, the present moment is where we get to begin again, choose again, and change our life. Right here, right now.
Whenever I find myself in a frenzy of future-tripping, I remind myself of the following quote, which I read in Rick Hanson’s book, Resilient:
“There is a saying in Tibet: If you take care of the minutes, the years will take care of themselves.”
Whoa. Yes! Can I get an “amen?”
What a visceral way to change our perspective. If I choose to just focus on this minute, I don’t have to worry about what will happen in a year because I’ve got my insurance plan for it: I took an action that made me feel good, loved, or calm. I’m already writing my future by being here, now. Because the present moment is always filled with possibilities and options.
Listen, I get it. There is so much conditioning around “planning for the future.” Much of what we do when we are young is so we can have a good future (schooling, career training, financial planning, retirement).
The problem is the fear that is placed in our minds if we somehow slip up and choose the “wrong” path, “Careful! You don’t want to do that—it could ruin your future!”
Another aspect? We may be made to feel irresponsible or unrealistic if we continuously choose the present moment as our saving grace, “I can’t sit and enjoy this book now; I should be “planning for my future!”
By doing what, exactly? How is reading a book not good enough, especially if we are enjoying it, which puts our brain in the responsive setting and activates our sense of safety and contentment?
While every soul does have a “destiny” (or the desired expression for a lifetime, which can include a myriad of experiences), we must remember that we are co-creators. We have a say and we have our intuition, which is always leading us to the fullest expression of our soul’s joy in the physical reality.
The future is not written in stone someplace, inert and lifeless. It’s a breathing, pulsating, and ever-evolving series of events and experiences. And we have a say in how that future is molded because we have the present moment right at our fingertips.
How are you feeling right now? What do you desire right now? What can you do about what you desire right now?
Right now is our superpower. It is our catalyst and chemist. It is the source of how the rest of our day, week, month, year, and life will unfold.
The next time you find yourself stressed, overwhelmed, worried, or future-tripping, refer to the quote above and take a deep breath. Remind yourself of your power and influence at this moment. Choose again.
Because if you take care of this minute, the years really will take care of themselves.