As I write these words, I struggle to stay present. My mind wants to remind me of everything I have coming up, things that I should be thinking about, planning, and worrying over.
Yet, as I focus on the future it interferes with right now, with this very moment. In fact, I realize that thinking about the future while living in the present is not even possible.
I cannot live in two places at the same time!
The future distracts me, it leads me down a path where there is precious little under my control. While living in the future, I hear words such as “What if… I should… I need to.” There is very little positive or productive thinking in these words. The future is out of my control.
However, when I am in the present, really in the moment, things get done. Articles get written, art is created, goals are met, creative business ideas are achieved, and real life is experienced.
In the present, I am committed to my true, authentic self. In the future I connect with my fearful self, the one who anticipates, who becomes cautious and who ultimately lives in fear.
There are other times, however, when I let myself live in the past. I remember what I should have done, the choices that might have been better, the creative things I could have gone for. I begin to move from presence to the past, from this very moment that is under my control, to looking back on how I might have lived differently.
Even though I cannot in any way change or control my past, I allow myself to feel guilt and shame. I have plenty of material to feel regret, so instead of gaining wisdom from my past and becoming stronger as a result in the moment, I beat myself up, as if there was something I could do about it today.
In his song ‘Wasted on the Way’, Graham Nash sings about the fear and self doubt that so often holds us back from going for what we really want,
Oh when you were young, did you question all the answers.
Did you envy all the dancers who had all the nerve?
Look around you now, you must go for what you wanted
Look at all my friends who did and got what they deserved.
The reality is, living anywhere but in the present is a recipe for disaster.
Self-control, choices, decisions that will help define who I am right now and where I want to go become distorted through the filter of anxious anticipation or shameful regret – either of which keeps me in an emotional prison while robbing me of the joy and opportunity of learning things in the very real experience of this moment.
Our art becomes safe, our writing less authentic, our relationships surrounded by fears of being too vulnerable, and our business is done without any risk-taking.
Living a life of safety leads to the death of experiencing a life of freedom. The power of being present shows up through our risk taking and an authentic acceptance of all that we are in the moment.
Presence can show itself in our uniqueness, in our quirky ‘abnormal’ way of seeing life. Who really wants to be normal, to be safe like everyone else, to live normally yet afraid?
There is no joy in that kind of living.
The power of presence allows us to create and to live boldly and outrageously. In the present moment there is no room for playing it safe, for looking back on what we could have done, or anticipating what may come.
One of my absolute favorite quotes, from the book Zorba the Greek, is
“With a little madness, you can cut the rope and be free.”
Are you tied to your past? Is your rope tied to what you fear about the future? I encourage you today, at this moment, to begin to cut the rope.
Take a slow, deep breath.
Tell your fearful, critical inner voice to shut up.
Watch as your amazing, authentic and wonderful self becomes free to live in the present.
I cannot wait to hear what you discover as your ropes are cut and you begin to live a life of freedom.
Question: What would you like to go for that you have always been afraid of pursuing? You can leave a comment by clicking the Comments box above.