We embody values and practices that offer us meaningful lives now. We let go of needing to impact the future.*
We were speaking, the other day, of the illusions under which human beings labour including the illusion we have a fixed character which is more or less authentic.
Another illusion is our relation to the past and future. We think our lives are given by our past: our family, education, socio-economic group, country, cohort, experiences and so on. Yet, it is the future that is giving us our lives.
The future we’re living into gives us our experience of life in the present.
It’s easy to demonstrate this.
Think about your experience of life when you have a holiday ahead of you, then think about your experience of life when you have a holiday behind you. Generally, they will be two different experiences of life, each of which is given by the future we see coming at us.
For many human beings the future they see coming at them is one of old age which translates to “decline”, “suffering”, “loneliness”, “physical debilitation”, “loss of independence” and so on. Not surprisingly, the experience of life this gives in the present is not a happy one. It is an experience of life full of anxiety, fear and resistance to what is.
In this situation, what human beings normally try to go to work on is the future. They see a bleak future coming at them and strive mightily to change or fix the future.
This is futile. There is no access there.
The one access we have to life is the present. And if you think this is like winning the booby prize in a raffle, think again. Not only is it the one access, it is the access that works.
Consider this. What works is to invent a context or possibility that gives you power, freedom and self-expression right now, in the present, and the future will take care of itself.
To say it another way: when we invent plans and possibilities and schemes that excite and move us, their value does not lie principally in the future, in whether or not they succeed or fail. Their value lies in the experience of life they give us now, in the present.
* Margaret J Wheatley, “A Path for Warriors”, So Far From Home: Lost and Found in Our Brave New World
Image: by Cerise Doucede
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