Trying to Stay Present

I have this terrible habit of catapulting myself into the unforeseen future. And when I say “unforeseen,” I mean quite literally, the future does not exist. Yet I insist on visiting it like a zoo; walking up and down its isles admiring all the things I think  maybe, possibly could one day be. Let me not mislead you, it’s no fantasy world I’m conjuring up in those brain corners. It’s just my vision of reality as I expect it to unfold.

Well there’s one thing really wrong with that already… Is right now anything like I expected?

Does anyone expect to get cancer, join the army, tour South Africa or undergo a religious conversion?

Of course not. So why do I keep waking up on the other side of tomorrow, dreaming about my life: with kids, as a missionary, in Europe, rich, homeless, retired, quadriplegic?

My favorite future surf is imagining myself in 20 to 30 years, fully matured and wise beyond conception, wearing cropped jcrew pants and a scarf in my white hair… the most ravishingly -beautiful-for -being-almost-60 woman you’ve ever seen, and did I mention, perfectly deft in all social interaction, published in 38 languages, spiritually/mentally/physically at One with the Holy Spirit of God, and by the far best cook to land this planet since the inception of peach cobbler.

HELLO, not real. (and perhaps that one IS fantastical)

Sure, I am very thankful for an active imagination and quite pleased I haven’t lost my youthful edge… But I don’t become that magical siren of a lady unless I’m becoming her in the here and now.

I think there is something to be said about goals. Certainly one must envision a better self, way or world in order that it ever see fruition, but I am speaking of something very different, something we’ve heard many times before: living in the future rather than existing in the present.

Here’s an example I like: Girls naming their children that have not been conceived or are not near conception (in some cases, do not even have a counterpart with which to conceive).

Now, if I have a girl I’m going to name her Fae and if I have a boy I will probably name him Esten.  But I’ve already admitted my problem. Playing this “name game” seems innocent enough, it’s silly and simple, but sometimes it is our silly and simple future surfs that stray us away from an intentional life.

It starts with the name game, and then one day we are 27 or 43 or 89 and we aren’t–our life isn’t–what we thought it would be. I hope that isn’t a discouraging thought, I hope it inspires action. In my own life, I turn inward and ask myself:

“Jane, what’s important to you? Are you pursuing those things today?”

Sometimes I am. When I write drafts of blog posts, I know I’m working for my writing and I feel good about that. When I sit down with my Bible, I’m working for my spiritual life and I feel good about that.

But when I realize I’ve spent 2 hours looking at cropped pants and scarves on jcrew.com, I chide myself for such an ugly injustice to a mindful life; for trying to be in a world where I own 34 pairs of the Minnie pant, rather than just being in the one pair I’m wearing.

So does that mean we should never think about the future, about who we hope to become, or owning new things or naming our children? No, it doesn’t mean that. There is a healthy place for planning and preparation.

It means we must endeavor to pursue today, today. To wake up with a great peace in our hearts that reminds us kindly: You are here now, what will you make of it?

Just another story about living presently. But it’s my story. What’s yours? How do you live a present life?

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