Living in the present

Ashley Hughes

      I hear the cliché expressions “life is short,” “live each moment like it’s your last” and “live in the now” quite often in my everyday life but I never see them practiced. Instead, I see a completely different trend developing that proclaims a completely different message; “All I have to do is make it to the summer” or “one month left until spring break when I can finally get some sleep.” People have countdowns until holidays, summer and even graduation. This world is so future orientated that living in the present is nearly impossible, and when the future that we have been waiting for so long is finally  the present, we already have something new to look forward to.

     Generally, humans are never satisfied. By nature, our brains are constantly struggling with a new worry or dealing with an exciting happening in the near or distant future. There is always something around the corner, from things like new technology, to the next best way to prepare for your higher educational future. However, there is a difference between having goals, and wasting your life away waiting for the future to arrive.

     Humor me, and pretend that you spent your elementary school life wishing you were in middle school so you can stay up late like your older brother. When middle school arrives you wish that you could drive like the cool high school kids in your neighborhood. You know that if you can make it through these three awkward years of adolescence that time will soon come. But by the time you can drive, you are constantly being forced by teachers, parents and the world that you need to make major decisions about what your future will hold; where you will attend college and what you want to do with your life. When senior year arrives and the inescapable senioritis kicks in, you inevitably spend the entire year wishing that graduation was there and longing for college. After you’ve been at college for a while, you wish you had your degree already so you didn’t have to wake up and take classes anymore. One thing leads to another, and eventually, you are fifty five years old and wanting to retire so you don’t have to work anymore. What kind of life is that, always thinking of the future and never thinking about the here and now?

     Maybe part of this situation sounded a little familiar. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, but it is something that humanity should be aware of. In today’s world, it is just how the majority of us are taught to be. Don’t get me wrong, it is great to have goals and things that you look forward to. However, in an extreme case, you end up just like the scenario I presented. In the fast paced lives we lead, it’s often difficult to take a deep breath and truly realize what we are doing. Sometimes it’s necessary to open your eyes to the moment, take in everything that you’re doing, feeling, hearing and just reflect on what is going on in the present. Give your mind a break, and set the future aside.

     The problem is all this revolves around balance. Obviously, one can’t live a perfectly random life and expect everything to be all flowers and rainbows. Face it, some planning will always need to occur. However, it’s the focus that needs to be altered. It is entirely possible to be happy and content with the life you have, while maintaining a well rounded perspective and outlook on the future. Just don’t make it a habit to dwell in that futuristic home you dream about. When you start to center everything around what has yet to come, you start to lose sight of things that are really important.

     Looking ahead to the future to the point of not living in the present takes away from the wonderful memories and lessons that you learn along the way. Every day you live, you have one day less of living. So open your eyes and live!  Remember that it’s the journey, not the destination and half of the fun is getting there.