You may have heard a lot of talk about "living in the moment." I'd like to offer you a different perspective on this topic. When I first heard of this idea, I was bound tightly to scheduling and planning, which left me anxious and in a state of constant worry. A friend suggested that I try to "live in the moment," which was met with extreme skepticism from my analytic brain. Over the past couple of years, I have researched this topic, taking note that there are as many interpretations as there are people. One of the most popular interpretations seems to be prevalent among younger people, as well as those with Peter Pan complexes. This involves no planning of any kind, making no commitments, and usually depends on the fact that another person pays the bills. Each choice is made without any thought, and many times without any consideration for others. This lifestyle choice is rarely possible past the age of 18, but I certainly know of older people who have chosen this for themselves. I know of one young man who declares to anyone who asks, "I'm homeless, I don't want a job!" This statement is normally followed by a request for money, or some other favor. He feels as if responsibilities are "too intense" and prefers to sleep on the beach. This would be an extreme example of "living in the moment."
The more middle of the road approach to this philosophy is where most people arrive. They have jobs, contribute to society, and usually have families. They make plans and commitments, considering others, as well as themselves. The one source of stress for them is the future. You hear things like, "I can't wait until Friday!" or even "I can't wait until vacation!" This is all very common, so none of us think much of it. However, I have observed, that while you are focused on the future, even if it is just a day away, you are missing out on important things happening RIGHT NOW. When you are having a "bad day" it is very tempting to block it out, and focus on a time when "things will be better." I used to tell myself, "It's darkest before the dawn," and in this way, I was able to pull myself out of depression and "make it." However, I have recently started really focusing on not missing a single minute of my life, and I find that escaping those low moments cheated me out of a lot of my experiences, and lessons resulting from them.
The best example of this for me was when my kids were born. I remember being up sleepless nights, changing diapers, breastfeeding difficulties, and many other things which, at the time, I considered to be unpleasant. I couldn't wait for them to grow up and be independent so I could get some sleep and do my own thing! Well, I got what I wished for, 17 years later. My oldest son is going off to college soon, and he spends his time doing just about anything but hanging with me. He is a great kid, and I miss him. I think about those nights when he had a high temperature and I had to get in a tepid bath with him to bring it down. I think about all the days we spent at the park together, and I wanted to talk to my friends but he begged me to push him on the swings. It's all equally precious to me, NOW. I wish I had appreciated it more THEN.
When you live in the future, or even the past, you are missing your life. You are missing the lessons, and the grateful heart you will have when things go well, because you were in the trenches when things weren't going as you hoped. When things don't go as planned for me, I am thankful that I can be open to the fact that I may not know as much as the Creator. My plan for myself is limited to what I know, and to live a life without limits and expectations is what I want. I am at peace with the fact that every experience has value, and I don't want to miss any of it.
"Enjoy this moment, it is your life" ~ Way of The Peaceful Warrior