Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What does it mean to live in the moment?

Over the last decade I've spent countless hours and energy simplifying my life, my possessions, my activities - eliminating the clutter. Much of the simplification has been tangible objects and items. But some of the simplification has been really abstract, enough so that I have difficulty understanding what I'm doing, or trying to do.

For example, to eliminate the clutter of my time, I'm trying to focus on now, living in the moment. Which means I have to eliminate the clutter of past and future. I certainly need to remember my past. I've done some wonderful things (and some not so wonderful) and I want to hold those warm memories in my heart. I don't every want to forget my time in Wendell. But I don't want to dwell in the past or get stuck in the past wondering, "what if?"

Likewise, I need to plan for the future. I make plans, schedule appointments. I have infusions scheduled six months out. But I don't want to live in the future, constantly looking for what's to come, hoping it's better than today. I can expect the best and plan for the worst, but the only things I can do can only be done today. I'm applying for a doctoral program, but I'm not going to start planning my life around the class schedule. I have no idea if I'll be accepted to the program or not.

But here's where the real difficulty in living "now" creates confusion for me. I'm unemployed, on disability. There are days when I  really want a job. I want to be doing something. And yet, I am so busy. I don't have time for a job.

  • I'm teaching as an adjunct professor at NNU
    • Building a class
    • reading text books to prepare
    • writing assignments, rubrics, tests, quizzes
  • I'm learning Spanish
  • I'm learning the ukulele
  • I'm working to improve my photography
  • I'm writing a book
When do I have time for a job? I'm really enjoying not "working." I really like doing all these life-enhancing activities.

But then I feel guilty for enjoying myself. I should be feeling miserable, after all I am an unhealthy, unemployed, aging, fat, balding, out of shape, often lazy middle aged man.

I go back and forth, too often, wondering how things could be different if only I had done things differently, or wondering how things will work out since I don't really have a 100% sure plan. Both of those extremes are clutter, life clutter, living in the past and living in the future instead of living in the present.

So I try to live each day, doing what I can do on this day. There's nothing I can do about yesterday, and tomorrow will take care of itself. But living in the moment is easier said than done.
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