Here today, gone tomorrow

January 11, 2011

Do you ever beat yourself up for not achieving all the things you expected to during the day? If you are anything like me then it can be a fairly regular Chinese burn, if not two black eyes and some serious dental work. Even in the case of what should be pleasurable pass times – gardening, cooking or writing a blog post – a sort of mechanistic, ‘got to get to the next task’ type thinking can suck the fun out of the current activity; it’s all about achieving the list, rather than gaining satisfaction from the present. 

Thinking too much like this can drive the joy out of life. Yes, achieving things in a busy world can be aided by a certain amount of clarity on what your priorities are for work or personal life and trying to remain focused on the majority of these at the expense of watching the 10 best overhead kicks ever on you tube is mostly a good thing. But it can go too far and who wants to develop a personality akin to a Panzer tank? 

But the pressure to look forward and to better plan your life is everywhere – just at the time when we are being simultaneously hit with more information and distractions than most people could ever handle. I sometimes find myself looking in the app store to find an app that may in some way offer the best possible means of organising my iphone in such a way as to make me the Supreme Human Being. However – oh the irony – I usually just manage to waste an hour I could have spent doing something slightly more useful. In a slightly different vein, as it’s January the tv is now awash with holiday adverts tempting us off to some far flung shore and creating enticing desires to give up on the here and now and focus on giving ourselves something to look forward to. The present seems only to be a portal for reaching a better future. When we get there we’ll no doubt spend time discussing ‘where to next?’

A couple of recent newspaper articles on mindfulness therefore caught my attention. I wouldn’t know much about the Buddhist philosophy, meditation shtick (too busy down the boozer doling our common ZENsense with my spiritual leader the Dalai Lager) but focusing my attention on the things I am currently doing – after due diligence has established that these are the things I actually want to be doing of course – seemed to make a surprisingly revelatory type of sense.

Here’s to now. And stop thinking about the better articles you should have been reading instead of this one.

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One Response to “Here today, gone tomorrow”

  1. tbm7 said

    An excellent post, Matthew, and one that I’ll reply to more fully in due course. No surprise that Oliver Burkeman wrote an interesting piece on this a few weeks back – if you didn’t see it, always worth checking out.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/dec/04/be-in-the-present-oliver-burkeman

    TBM

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