Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Why I'm now longer living in the Now

It's become the phenomenon of our time I reckon - to live for the moment, squeeze the living daylights out of every second, and be forever moving forward.

I'd always been a bit envious of people who do this - mainly because my inherent worryworting behaviour is not helpful when it comes to stewing about the past, nor stressing about the future.  And I think there's probably some truth in the cliches that tell us about history and mystery.

I'm all for experiencing life fully - sometimes it's beyond bliss to be captured by a single moment and to want to stay with it and enjoy it (or not).  

The electronics that hang about me are constant distractions from the now, that's for sure.  And it's extremely easy for what was to be a quick five minutes looking something up on the interwebs, to turn into an hour or so of mindless surfing.  After all - to live in the now is the perfect foil to boredom and a (dammit let's do it), need for excitement, 

But frankly, I think this whole idea to Carpe the fuck out of that Diem has gotten a bit out of control. As humans, we are the sum of our experiences, and so not only is it impossible to leave the past in the past, I reckon it's probably not that healthy. Those memories and experiences shape who we are, every day.  Every damn day.  And the only way to learn is to actually acknowledge that stuff we thought we had so carefully packed up (baggage? hello...I have SO much of that stuff!), or accidentally on purpose 'forgotten' about.

I also believe that careful planning - the weighing of pros and cons, the understanding and commitment to consequence, are also key parts of life.  And the thing with that,  is that living in the now is way too close to avoiding outcomes.  What should be a considered, (current trending term alert), mindful way of living, can so easily become a 'damn the crows' type attitude toward what 'might' happen (could happen/should happen).  

And I spend all that time teaching my kids to think about their actions, make plans for their future, remember that what they do now will affect their lives FOREVER and then they hear the 'now' message.  There's nuance, of course there is, but show me a 12 or 18 or 28 or 48 even, year old cortex that really truly gets that. 

The now is delicious. The now is about living in the moment, reminding oneself that at any moment we could be dead.  And that's true - sure didn't one of my friends go off to work last Saturday and never come home.  

But does living in the now mean we should not respect our past, or our future, nor acknowledge all that has happened that has made us who we are? I think not.  Bury them as deep as they need to go, but memories are there forever, and mine have made me the person I am today.  It's a long arduous journey to move through them  - or at least make them portable enough to move with me (and that's kind of the point), but my fear is that to proclaim and model  to live 'in the moment' will not respect those formative experiences, nor allow me space to plan my future.  

For me, the now is the sum of its parts.  The good the bad and the ugly, all of which need acknowledgement and respect.  Does that mean 'hanging on' to the past and fearing for the future? Not at all - but it does mean being mindful of life in all tenses,  respecting that everything I did, and do, has a consequence that will reach far far beyond the here and now. 

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