I had long strived to do this. I was often criticized for being uptight and constantly stressed. I spent a lot of time in therapy and in the self-help world trying to address this aspect of my personality.
Then, I got cancer. Funny, but the one thing I seemed to dwell on after diagnosis wasn’t the present, but the future. I wanted one.
On the other hand, my cancer therapist was all into “mindfulness based stress reduction,” which, naturally, boils down to being entirely in the present. I didn’t have a chance.
I got rather good (if I must say so myself) at the practice of mindful living (at least for me) while in cancer therapy.
Then, suddenly, I wasn’t married any more. Any thought I’d ever had of a future was wiped away. And, in another shock to me, I learned my past had been a lie.
Unlike people whose therapists are constantly trying to get them to forget about the past and look to the now or the future, my past only brought pain. I didn’t (and still don’t) want to remember it.
My future, though, only brought more pain! Plans lost. Hopes driven away. Options destroyed.
I was left without a choice. I had to live in the moment.
After a few initial living-in-the-moment-resisting-hiccups, I actually adapted pretty well. No doubt, it was all that mindfulness living my poor therapist had to drill into me.
And, oh, what a glorious couple of moment-living years it has been!
Nary a thought about tomorrow. Happily living with few plans. Grateful to take each “thing” as it came along.
Unfortunately, I think my hedonistic ways have caught up with me. How do you have clean clothes if you never, ever think about laundry? When does the lawn get mowed when you are perfectly enthralled with watching it grow? How does your child get to school/camp/dad’s/grandma’s on time when you are busy marching to the beat of your own drummer?
These are all questions for the ages.
I imagine Buddha did not have these issues. I’m sure he just sat cross-legged under a tree, bathed in enlightenment, while his attendents and lackeys brought his yummy rice pudding and milk, with the occasional green tea. I’ll bet they did the dishes, too.