“When I get ______, I’ll be able to ______.”
We’ve all thought about what life would be like (or will be like) when something about it changes; when we relocate, when we earn more money, when we meet the person of our dreams. We spend a lot of time and energy projecting into the future about a kind of life that we find preferable to the one we lead now. For many of us, we’re so unhappy with how life is now that entertaining thoughts of a brighter and better future keep us going.
There’s nothing wrong with hope. There’s nothing at all wrong with planning for the future and being proactive, either. After all, the future is a “now” that just hasn’t happened yet.
The problem arises when our projecting and obsessing about the future robs of of the present moment. No amount of planning for the future will allow us to control it. I can’t recall a single instance where thinking about the future caused the future to be exactly what I wanted it to be or thought should be. External circumstances that lay beyond our power will ultimately condition the future and shape it according to their own reality. This doesn’t mean we don’t have the independent power to condition the future when it arrives but, when it does, it will no longer be the future but now.
We exist in this moment. You don’t have the be an expert in mindfulness or have read every text on meditation to comprehend that this moment is all we have. It’s just an easily observable fact. Moreover, the past and future don’t exist. Aside from our projections, whether memory in the case of the past or speculation in the case of the future, these things have no actual substance. And memory and speculation are both wildly influenced by our perception, anyway.
This moment; this beautiful present moment, is all we have. The object is accepting that nothing we can attain in the future can shape this moment in which we find ourselves. It is an entirety unto itself; it is the width and breadth of everything.
Thinking obsessively about the future and hanging our value and worth on something that may or may not happen only robs us of this moment. And it’s better to accept this moment with all of its dents and scratches than to put our lives on hold for the sake of speculation.