“Forever is composed of nows.” – Emily Dickinson
I found myself doing something today I rarely do: looking back. Specifically, looking back to times that I was either unbelievably elated or terribly sad. The untimely death of Robin Williams, may he rest in peace, is what got me examining my emotional states-past.
To my complete surprise, this endeavor was quite a challenge! It astounded me that although I could remember feelings associated with life-changing events, i.e., marriage, birth of my daughter, date of divorce, etc., I could not isolate many individual times of joy or sorrow to reflect on them.
I have the memory of a dolphin (1). I can remember having my tonsils out around the age of two, and in some detail. But try as I might, I could not put myself into individual moments of great happiness or extreme despair.
The fact of the matter is, all we have is this moment. Our entire lives, past, present, and – if we are fortunate enough to have- future exist in this very moment.
Think about it. The past is but memories, good or bad. And even when I, with a really great memory, try to relive the feelings in my mind, I cannot. I can’t foresee the future. I could certainly create an image in my mind of a best/worst case scenarios for any given wish or fear, but if they would ever actually become reality is anybody’s guess.
We rush about with brains that never rest. It is said that we have 70,000 thoughts per day (2). Most of them scattered fragments, but still a good percentage of formed cogent thoughts. The problem is, most of them are related to non-existent situations, events or outcomes, because they are past or future.
Contentment and peace in life comes from inhaling each precious moment, not worrying or wondering or wishing.
Just being right where you are: Present.
If we were able to tally up all of the moments – every single one- that were truly painful (physically or emotionally) and all moments in our lives to date that were just fine, or even fabulous, I am quite sure that the latter tally would far overshadow the previous.
Message to us all: LIVE in each moment. Take joy from little things.
Bloom exactly where you happen to be planted, no matter how challenging the present moment is.
Look at what happened just now. The present became the past!