Life is nuanced. Even something as simple as being mindfulness and living in the present moment is complex.
The heavy wind toyed with the Cessna 141 as I fought with the controls and my fear. My instructor helped point the nose into the wind and at the last second straightened out as we landed the plane. I was living moment to moment. One moment, attempting to get my race car driving license, another contemplating a joy ride in an L39 Albatross fighter jet trainer. Other moments, Absinthe and Jack Daniel evenings that led to falling asleep on the bathroom floor.
I was living my life like the James Dean quote tattooed on my left bicep: “Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.” I had a distorted view of what mindfulness and living in the present moment meant. All the years of sacrificing and delaying gratification had come to a screeching halt, and now I was making up for lost time. I inevitably crashed and realized the hard way that delaying gratification was as bad as always living in the present moment.
Timefulness, not mindfulness.
Honor the moment. Yes, being in the present moment is important, but realize each moment has a foundation of all moments before it and is also the building block for all moments in the future. Mindfulness is a westernized bastardization of the complex concept of sati. If we look at sati’s Buddhist origins, the translations focus on remembrance as well as present awareness. I learned to balance being in the present moment with reflecting where I’ve been and where I’d like to be in the future. Harmonizing my need for adrenaline and flow state with my daughters present and future needs for her dad to always be there.
I found alternatives to my flow state addiction, avoiding the more dangerous and reckless activities while still getting that same flow state rush. I started making music again after a 20-year hiatus. I began to write, draw and just be creative. I learned how to swim for the first time and found how easy it was to be at Zen and flow state in the swimming pool. I don’t just set time in my day to be mindful; I set every moment in my life to be timeful. Honoring both who I was, who I am now, and who I want to be. Some moments in reflection, others in the present, and others future planning. I am always aware of the past, the present, and the future.
The future is never guaranteed.
I got to where I was by sacrificing my present hoping for a better day in the future. I hit a major crisis and went present moment crazy sacrificing my future. It doesn’t matter if you are always living in the moment or always saving up for a rainy day. Regardless of what you do your future isn’t guaranteed and change happens. You need to have mini-retirements and sustainable gratification that provide you an opportunity to enjoy life currently and allow you to have a fulfilled future. Find alternatives that allow you to live now but honor your future self as well. Love not only who you’ve been and who you are but your future self as well.
When I focus on time, I become wealthy. When I focus on money, I become poor.
As I better understood my relationship with time, I started to take different actions in my life. I focused on saving my time instead of saving my money. I now hire others to do tasks that previously I would do on the premise of saving money. I realized that many of those things we do to try and save our money we don’t take into consideration our time.
If our time was considered, we would conclude we aren’t saving money at all. I erroneously thought flying was expensive, and so I invested my time to save a buck driving to visit my daughter every month. In the end, not only was driving more expensive but I wasted precious time. Life is nuanced. Even something as simple as being mindfulness and living in the present moment is complex.
Photo: Flickr/ Alice Popkorn