July 19, 2021
There are a few things in life that I have always, and probably will always suck at. Math, athletics, and living in the present, just to name a few. Ask any armchair psychiatrist, myself included, and they will tell you all about the importance of living in the present. It’s very true, being bogged down in either the past or present can prevent us from experiencing the joy, sadness, contentedness, ect. of our current moment.
However, we might not need to talk so frequently about the importance of focusing on the present if it wasn’t so flipping difficult to stay in. I feel like our culture, in many ways, encourages us/forces us to live for tomorrow. We pay ur insurance premiums now so that if we break our leg tomorrow, it won’t bankrupt us. We work all week to spend our wages on the weekend, or we work our whole lives so that we can enjoy our pensions during retirement. We invest our time and our money, doing all we can to learn from the past and plan for the future.
But perhaps I’m just making excuses for my ineptitude at practicing mindfulness. My therapist would be ashamed.
So why am I talking about this now? Well, recently I went home (thus, how delayed this post is), and noticed how much of a problem this actually is for me. While home, enjoying my family and friends, I couldn’t help focusing on how soon I would be leaving them again. I could hardly enjoy my vacation, I was so busy being emotional about the impending goodbyes. I realized about halfway through the trip that I wasn’t allowing myself to enjoy it. I wasn’t allowing myself to live in it.
My inability not to worry about the future is probably why I’m so terrible at commitment. Decisions are hard and I have a tendency to prophesize catastrophes in my future. A decision now could lead to a disaster in the future, that’s called “the butterfly effect.” Just this week, while holding Z’s famous urinal, I looked up at Z and thought “what if I don’t like his haircut in 20 years.” That could be a tragedy! It’s these kinds of questions that spike my anxiety, anything could happen and that means anything BAD could happen.
Needless to say I’ve imagined whole hosts of disasters for the future of Z and my relationship. Not to mention, I’ve never had a “best friend” who was my go to for receiving emotional support and my partner in crime for longer than two years, so imagining that Z and I will be able to maintain our closeness until we’re forty seems insane. And, what the heck do I do after 40, as we’ve written about before, Z might die, so I could end up being alone. That scares the poop out of me.
So you can see how these thoughts can spiral and prevent me from enjoying our relationship in the moment. I know that living in the present can be done, it will just take work. Once upon a time, I had similar trouble with regret. After a decision I would spend days, even weeks just thinking about how I should’ve done things differently. It took up all my time. But I decided there was no good in that, I can’t change the past, and even if I could I’m happy with where I am and I wouldn't want to change it.
So that’s where I’m at. I’ve gotta work on being in the present. Maybe, with a lot of work, one day I could suck a little less at it. That’s the dream.