Hope for the future. Longing for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Good thing or bad thing? Depends. When we hope the next thing is the right and good thing, we often experience now as either a conduit or an impediment to that next thing. And in the process, we can miss the very parts of now that are already what we yearn for in the future.
Hoping and dreaming can be a marvelous distraction from the pain of the present. They can unleash a creativity that transforms today’s pain into tomorrow’s anticipated joy. “It will be different, better, I can create and live the reality I so want,” we tell ourselves. We envision living, having, doing what we want, and making up for what we don’t have in the present.
We can face what we need to do to change, and work toward that future. We realize it may manifest itself in somewhat different form in real life, and ready ourselves to take advantage of it when we see it. We can strengthen ourselves for challenges we cannot yet anticipate, but know exist. We can use hoping and dreaming to practice – right now – being the best version of who we want to be in the “what we want to be” to come.
But when we just go through the motions to get to the real event, we can feel angry about the motions we have to go through. Rather than undertaking them willingly because they connect us to something worth working for, we resent them, or wish them away. We are oftentimes impatient. We need the answer right now, the food ready right now, the train to arrive right now. We feel irritated that it’s taking too long; we cannot wait.
Sometimes, when we see another person as an obstacle to completing some task we need done in order to get on with things, we label them in the way, bothersome, or worse. Or we decide they are the cause of our pain. This impatience does not serve us well. Even if we do get that coffee now, we remain irritated long after we’ve finished drinking it. And even if the other person is an impediment, we transfer all our power to the very picture we don’t want, rather than framing the situation so it guides us toward the future we wish for.
Sometimes, we paint the wished-for picture all too vividly. We polish and perfect it, fantasizing too long and too well. Our fantasy life increasingly removes us from the present. Rather than facing our pain, we practice retreating from it by painting an ideal. No real life experience, no real person, could begin to live up to such fantasy.
But what if now can’t be reduced to either the conduit nor the impediment to the future we yearn for? The urgency of now is not to be confused with the present moment. Feeling stuck in now leaves us feeling demoralized, weakened, angry. Avoiding now steeps us in fantasy, taking us away from living fully. Hiding in now allows us to ignore our responsibility in making life the way we want it to be. Fighting now keeps us from seeing how to convert now into the future we long for.
To convert today’s unwanted “now” into a real “now” in the real future, we must accept and live in this very moment. Only by living in the present moment, framed by our dream of a realized better future, can we infuse the present with our dream, and transform our hopes into reality.
“The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth in the present moment, to appreciate the peace and beauty that are available now.” – Thich Nhat Hanh, TOUCHING PEACE
Copyright © 2009 Marlin S. Potash. All rights reserved.