Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thinking of the future

I got the blues thinking of the future, so I left off and made some marmalade. It's amazing how it cheers one up to 'shred oranges and scrub the floor.
—D. H. Lawrence

Living in the present is one of the core tenets of Al-Anon. There is even a daily reader whose title is One Day at a Time. Most of the time I can think about just today. I'm not one who dwells on the past thanks to the program. But I do have moments when I start to think about the future.

When I was a lot younger I was living for tomorrow. When I was a kid I couldn't wait to be older so I could do more things! My major advisor told me in graduate school to not rush and push so hard because these are going to be the most exciting days of my academic career. Joni Mitchell's great song "The Circle Game" comes to mind.

As I got older, not living in the present meant that I would lie awake and think about all the things that I had to get done at work the next day. Or I would start planning a happy event and my thinking would move toward the desired or "expected" outcome. I've found that there is very little that I can do about anything in the middle of the night, except sleep and pray.

But what about those moments when I start to see the present moment fly past? This is how my thinking will go: "I'm getting older and there is much to do. The days are going past much faster than they used to. I don't have much time left since my life is about half over." And on and on it goes.

And at that point in my thinking about how tempus is fugit, I start to build expectations. I start to think that I only have this one life and yet there is so much still that I would like to do. So that leads me to try to orchestrate my future and generally someone else's as well. And the outcome is that I start to miss out on what is happening now. I start missing the journey because I'm wasting so much energy planning the future.

I have read that people who sacrifice the present for the future feel little accomplishment when they get to that goal that they reached. That's because they will start looking towards the next goal and sacrificing the now for yet another future.

I'm still working on learning to live in the present and just be in the moment. I'm learning to enjoy the journey and not look for the destination. I wonder, too, if learning to live in the present is not a process of aging. When the future is short compared with the past, the moment seems to shine with more urgency.

This doesn't mean that I have to give up all future plans. Living in the moment doesn't mean to shuck all responsibility or become cavalier about everything. I have bills to pay, doctor visits to make, deadlines for work proposals and reports. I just don't choose to obsess over my future. I like to strive for a balanced awareness of my past, present and future with the present being my fulcrum on life's see saw.

I like the way my life is now. I have more freedom to do what I want, when I want to and with whom. So now I would definitely say I'm living for happiness and satisfaction today. I know that I'm not going to be happy every day, but satisfaction with life covers a lot of ground.


  1. Syd I feel so calm and at peace after reading this. Staying in the present and keeping things balanced is where it is at. I loved this.

  2. Such an incredible reminder. And one that I so needed right this very second! Thank you!

  3. Being right here, right now somehow has turned the past into a resource rather than blunder to be tussled with. Tomorrow is more hopeful and greeted with greater expectancy as I sink into the absolute joy of today. There is a heightened sense for me that it all continues, there isn't an ending or simply continues and I'm continuing along with it.

  4. As a fellow learner, I agree that the present is, well, a present...

    Blessings and aloha...

  5. Very wise words, Syd. I am about where you are at, age-wise, and I, too, think about these things a lot. The only answer I can find is living for today also.



  6. I'm a slow learner... but your posts are wonderful reminders.
    Thank you...

  7. I believe God is only found in the present. Peace and joy are right here, right now...ours for the seeking. Great message ROCK!

  8. The beginner's Al-Anon meeting I went to today was focused on the slogans and there was much discussion of "One Day At A Time".

    Sometimes I find it easier than at other times to do this. I do know I am always happier if I can stay in today - AND stay in MY OWN TODAY - not someone else's today.


  9. From the hospital, Chris writes: I'm practicing being an Enchanted Oak, strong and tall, blessed by God, every moment as each LONG day passes here. You have a lot of wisdom, Syd. For a little laugh, go read my post today (Thurs) and try saying your name out loud 10 times to see what you get.

  10. I think that's a wonderful quote from DH Lawrence. It's amazing how visualizing Blues and the color Orange and thinking of Marmalade cheered me up. I think it's a great reminder for One Day at a Time. Thanks!

  11. i LOVE this picture and totally relate to being a kid and wanting to rush through everything and get to tomorrow. it's such a great practice to live in today and in the moment. my first sponsor called it practicing the presence of G-d

  12. Great post Syd. As usual. Recently divorced with not a lot of savings, the future scares me. And the past makes me sad. But today all is well.

  13. YES, satisfaction with life does cover a lot of ground. I can so relate to that Syd-o-licious.

  14. This is something I've really been learning alot lately. I've always lived in the past or the future. I never knew what living in the present was. It's peaceful is what it is!


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