For the past several years I have been making an effort to live "in the moment," being mindful of the good fortunes of the day at hand, rather than looking forward to a time in the future when life will be better.
I am long past that point when the tomorrows are dwarfed by the yesterdays. This is the simple reality of life, and I am grateful for the opportunity to face it. So I do my best not to spend precious time pre-occupied with tomorrow, worrying about what my lie ahead at the expense of enjoying today. This has become one of the defining themes as I approach the end of this eighth decade. Every day is a precious gift, and crazy is when you recognize that their supply can no longer be taken for granted and you spend the days worrying about how you should be spending them.
In spite of my efforts, I have had only limited success in keeping myself grounded in the present, a source of disappointment and frustration for me. Why is it so difficult? The premise is quite simple and reasonable, but so is the answer. It isn't easy to change a life long pattern of behavior.
We spend a lifetime anticipating the future. As children we want to be older; we are 5 years old, then 5 and half, before we are 6.
Later we count the years until we can get a drivers license, or legally purchase an alcoholic beverage. We look forward to completing our education, at whatever level that may be.
As freshmen we dream of being seniors, and as seniors we eagerly anticipate graduation. We have a life ahead of us for which we make plans: a career, marriage, family, and more. At some point we must assume personal responsibility for ourselves, and perhaps others, all of which demands us to deal with days yet to come.
And if we are fortunate to make it that far, we can look forward to retirement and the so-called golden years.
For our entire lives we are continually engaged with the future, learning to adapt to changing circumstances, both expected and unexpected. Considering all of this, the difficulty in trying to live in the present is understandable. So I lived with this frustration until that flashing light bulb appeared over my head, and I recognized for the first time what is now so obvious.
In years past, it was not unusual for my calendar to be filled with scheduled commitments 12 to 24 months ahead: plans for my next show, a deadline to complete one or more commissions, or scheduling work related travel. My days were full as I worked to meet all of those commitments displayed on the calendar. I was fully engaged in the days at hand, doing the work I loved, work that was generated by previous planning for the future. Tomorrow's plans became today's work. Today and tomorrow belong to one another; they cannot be separated. We don't have to choose one or the other, and this simple realization has resulted in a marked improvement in my state of mind.
As a result of all this navel gazing I've reached a compromise with this aging thing.
Today my "long range" plans rarely extend beyond 12 months, and are usually much less.
This provides more than enough work to keep me grounded in the day at hand, while allowing me the pleasure of looking ahead. I can truthfully say that I am living in the moment.