Todays post is a result of seeing a friend for the first time the other day, since before Christmas. He has lost about 25 lbs in that time, and been in the hospital, where he has been told to prepare to die within the next few months. Mel is still walking around smiling, seeing those friends he can, while he waits a transfer to a hospice. I have spent some time talking to him, and while he talks about the past including things he wishes had gone differently, he isn’t stuck on the past. Rather he has the attitude, of what can I get done today? He has gone out and tried some ethnic foods, that he never tasted before. He saw the Hobbit in 3D, just so he could experience the new 3D, as the last time was many years ago when you got the disposable anaglyph glasses, with the two different colored lenses. He is getting his will finalized, and contacting those he wishes to see once more. He has accepted death, and now wants to make the most of what life he has left. I asked him what he would tell anyone who wasn’t living under a known shorter lifespan. He answered with four words; “Live in the present!” So in honor of his advice, I will write something about living in the present.
If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.
Laozi (Lao Tzu) wrote these words almost 2400 years ago, and they still have just a much meaning today as when he said them. How often do we spend time reminiscing about what ifs? If we had done, this or not done that, all the while it is those choices that have made us who we are today. If you spend all your time working towards a raise, getting that bigger house, what will you miss? My parents were both working while I grew up, yet they made sure at least one of them was always at my special events, games, school functions. They did their best to see they both had the opportunity to be at these functions.
If your a student who waits till the last minute to write the paper, or study for the exam, you probably suffer from anxiety. Perhaps learning to schedule some study time on a daily basis, would allow you to study in the present, and avoid the anxiety of the future. If your working, and find your mornings rushed, choose your wardrobe the night before, make your lunch in advance(it’s healthier than most restaurant meals), and leave a few minutes earlier, the traffic won’t drive you crazy as easily. Also worrying constantly about things beyond our control, robs us of the wonderous gifts we have right now. Worrying about the day when you daughter first starts to date, when she hasn’t finished being potty trained, will probably lead to a bigger mess, than if you put all your attention to changing her diaper. The present is when we can carry out things, so why not make the most of each moment.
The Buddha taught us, we are to be mindful of our thoughts, speech, and actions and to live in the present. The more we are in the present, the more we are aware of what we say and do that affects other beings. By being mindful, we eliminate more incidents that cause suffering to others, and ourselves. So when your reading the blog, do so with all your attention, not thinking of what’s for lunch, or wondering what’s on sale at the midnight sale. When spending time with your family or friends, give them you full attention, and if you find your mind wandering, draw it back to the present. If you have children, or are planning on it, memories such as their first word, first step, first time they ride a bike with out training wheels, or someone holding the back of the bike seat, are memories that only happen once. Talking to your spouse, actually listen, and as a lady once told me, they don’t expect us guys to fix everything, sometimes all they want is for us to listen, to know we are there with them, right then and there.
In the military or in business, it’s not about having all the information to make a decision. It’s about having enough facts to make an informed decision, then actually making the decision that makes you a leader. The same applies to our daily lives, whether it’s buying a new cell phone, or what color to paint the kitchen walls, these don’t require as much thought as who we will marry. So don’t spend all your time today thinking, you get a lot more done just doing. If you get into getting things done, you might even find some time to take a few hings off your bucket list, while you still have time. If you make a mistake on occasion, don’t waste more time beating yourself up over it, just fix it and move on. Wasting time berating yourself, means you are compounding the original mistake.There is a saying that time and money are two things that should not be wasted.
So live in the moment, and you will be less stressed, and have more happy memories, and those around you will enjoy your companionship more too.