Be present now, let go of the past and future

April 10, 2008 at 8:47 pm (Uncategorized)

I’ve always had a tendency to live in the future. I love planners and calendars. I remember putting together my plans for Art Village, dreaming about what I wanted it to be. I loved talking with my dad about my plans and he would encourage and spur me on. When he died three months after we opened, the last thing I wanted to think about was the future, and all I wanted to do was get back the past. I was frustrated.

That experience had a profound effect on me. I began to wonder why I even bothered to make plans at all if they could come to an end so quickly. It then occurred to me that the past and future don’t really exist at all. All we have is this moment.

I’ve noticed recently when I become future focused, planning, predicting, dreaming, and worrying I lose a bit of the joy of living in the moment. This can happen to many of us. Our minds are consumed with questions like “What’s going to happen tomorrow?” The truth is, we don’t know. It doesn’t exist. All we can really see is what is before us today. What we should ask ourselves is “How can I make the most of today?” It can be a difficult thing to do.

Our imagination is a powerful thing. When we imagine things, we are creating them in our minds in the present moment. What can happen though, is that we begin to live there. Then we start striving. We are disappointed with the past and we worry about the future. Because we are not where we want to be, we become discontent with our current circumstances. A simple, but not easy, thing to do is make a mental shift from the past or future to the present.

A good way to practice being present is to make art. I’ve been enjoying painting on Tuesday nights because while I’m there, I can’t be anywhere else, both physically and mentally. I find that is difficult to think about anything besides what I’m doing at that moment when I’m in the process of making art. There is a joy and satisfaction we experience when we have an opportunity to be completely here now.

I decided to see if I could keep an attitude of being present. I’ve made little notes to set on my desk to remind me to be here now. I believe if I can be the best today, I’ll be in a good position to start tomorrow. Forgiveness is letting go of the past, and faith is letting go of the future.

I’m a big goal setter. I believe it’s good to have dreams, big dreams, but it’s important to live your dreams today. Find out the motivation behind your dreams and live from that motivation today.  Ask yourself “Am I setting goals because I think that by reaching them, I will become happy, or am I setting goals to increase the expression of the happiness I already have?

Start by making art. Create something to express yourself. Create the feelings of happiness and contentment now. Don’t put off feeling good. Making art is good practice because it puts you completely in the moment. Your focus is on the creative project at hand.

We need to enjoy today. Embrace the moment. Choose to do things because you want to express yourself to others. Don’t worry about what lies ahead. I heard someone say that life was like driving down the highway at night. Our headlights only reveal a few hundred feet in front of us, not the whole way home. But if we just keep driving, we’ll make it to our destination.

Art Saves Lives!

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1 Comment

  1. Cristi Schroeder said,

    I think this is such a great article. With all the Oprah “New Earth” craze, living in the present is a popular concept right now. But, I think we Christians need to do it more often. Live close to Jesus today, Let Him shine through us today, Stop worrying, don’t let the past hold you back from this moment, pray now and now and now. And I loved what you said, “Am I setting goals because I think that by reaching them, I will become happy, or am I setting goals to increase the expression of the happiness I already have?” I need to do that! Thanks for your inspiration, Rainy!*

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