Breaking Down the Past, Present, and Future: How Living Right now Just may Work Out

A phrase I heard years ago and have shared before has always stuck in my mind, it went something like this, “One foot in the future and one foot in the past, you’re pissing on the present.”

I never really gave it much thought at the time but it makes much more sense nowadays. Now I have more to juggle regarding responsibilities and obligations. There’s more to manage and frequently much is out of my control. Learning to let the dice tumble with acceptance is a skill I work on daily.

There are three places we can choose to spend our time.

    1. We can choose to focus on the past and all it’s done to influence the here and now. This may cause us to miss out on details which help us seize the day or situation.
    2. We can be fully engaged in this very moment and not let yesterday affect what we become today. We can be so present that we give little thought to tomorrow or the day after.
    3. We can spend our days constantly working towards the future, thinking about what we want to become or where we want to go.

The way I see it, one of these clearly needs to dominate the others in order to get the most out of our existence, to live life to the fullest and reach our potential. None of these can be ignored, but there is certainly a way to approach these areas effectively. Let’s talk about each of them and frame things just a little.

The future holds no real worth because it’s simply not guaranteed. Tomorrow is not promised, it cannot be bought and cannot hold a great deal of one’s attention. Playing with the future is a bit of a gamble, simply because we just never know. The future also doesn’t always show up the way we envision. In fact, sometimes the future doesn’t show up at all. We just never know, you know?

How many times do we spend our energy focused on what’s next, only to have the moment arrive and end up disappointed? I’m not suggesting we don’t try to manifest what we want and consider where we want to go. I’m suggesting we simply manifest in color versus black and white. To do this, create grand and fulfilling vision. Just remain open to the plans life may have in store. If our future is painted in black and white, we may just end up grey. The future can be ours and all we dare to dream. We simply need to be fully engaged to ensure we embrace the future, once it becomes the present.

The past, on the other hand, is fully guaranteed. Like it or not, it happened. The big thing to note here is this; while the past did happen, it’s done and gone. It’s not coming back. The past is not a measuring stick or an indicator of something to come. There is nothing about the past for any of us, which has to dictate today. The past certainly doesn’t have to dictate tomorrow if we get there. The past, and how it can influence our thoughts, emotions and actions, is perhaps the greatest enemy. The greatest threat to our internal peace.

Our past can easily become a series of wires on which we trip. Feeling like this is how it’s always been and always will be. Feeling as though things cannot change ultimately leads us to give up or stop trying. We hang onto other people’s words and give them too much weight, stones we unfairly try to carry. We cling to how we’ve been treated in the past and unfairly assume everyone else will do the same. We don’t give ourselves much of a chance in the event tomorrow actually does arrive.

This brings us to the present, which like the past, is guaranteed. Not only that, the present is the one piece we have the most influence over. We cannot deny our existence right here, right now. We can embrace the present or we can push it away. We can allow the present to work for us or against us. Either way, we have a choice.

Living consistently in this very moment is difficult and can be a challenge. Every new day lies on a foundation that may not be structurally sound. This doesn’t mean we can’t build the house. Each of us is capable of replacing those damaged bricks. One by one, we replace the weak bricks to build a fortress.

Our past is best used to reveal our strengths and build on them while letting the rest go. We can use the lessons of days past to avoid making the same mistakes. It’s a delicate balance of using the past to reflect without using it as a blueprint or forecast.

In much the same way, our future cannot be envisioned in stone. Having a vision and goals without losing sight of where we are right now. We must not forget to be flexible in order to chase the future. It’s easy to miss intersections which ultimately can lead us where we want to be. When we are present, it becomes easier to choose those paths and not have to continually start over. We can avoid retracing our steps. However, if retracing our steps to get back on the path is what it takes, do it.

We all have a story. It’s written one moment at a time, one experience at a time. Use this moment right now to the fullest. Your future self will thank you. Keep dreaming in color.