“We have a strong need to be on the way to some better moment, some better time when it all will come together for me. We can so easily become impatient and driven. Of course, this prevents us from being where we already are.” Jon Kabat-Zinn, Mindfulness for Beginners.
To me, this is one of Kabat-Zinn’s most helpful quotes. Because we are problem solvers – sometimes successfully, sometimes not – we can spend too much time in the imagined future, where we hope to gain the rewards of our problem solving. But if we are in problem solving mode all the time, we can so easily get nothing out of the present moment, caught up as we are in the future.
Thich Nhat Hahn puts it like this in The Sun My Heart: “Peace can only exist in the present moment. It is ridiculous to say, ‘Wait until I finish this, then I will be free to live in peace.’….If you think that way, peace will never come. There is always another ‘this’ that will follow the present one.”
The irony is that the present moment used to be a future moment for which we sacrificed the then present moment!
Awareness and appreciation of the present moment can help us to step outside that vicious circle.
Awareness we all know about if we take an interest in mindfulness: you can hardly be said to be “present” for a moment of which you are not aware. Appreciation, however, doesn’t get the recognition it should as a away of valuing our moments. In this regard, I found this quote (posted on my Facebook mindfulness forum) from Kurt Vonnegut’s Timequake stopped me in my tracks:
“My uncle Alex Vonnegut, a Harvard-educated life insurance salesman who lived at 5033 North Pennsylvania Street, taught me something very important. He said that when things were really going well we should be sure to notice it. He was talking about simple occasions, not great victories: maybe drinking lemonade on a hot afternoon in the shade, or smelling the aroma of a nearby bakery, or fishing and not caring if we catch anything or not, or hearing somebody all alone playing a piano really well in the house next door. Uncle Alex urged me to say this out loud during such epiphanies: ‘If this isn’t nice, what is?’ ”
What all of this tells me is that the moment to live for is this moment. I can anticipate future good moments of course and can get some pleasure from that but this moment is where it’s at.