I’m one of those people who is constantly waiting for the next thing: the next event, the next obstacle, the next interest. I’ve found that when you suffer with the chronic affliction of Whatisnextitus, living in the moment is pushed to the back burner and you’re in a constant state of slight anxiety, always feeling a little “meh”.
When you’re eyes are looking ahead with your thoughts in the future, it’s difficult to live in the moment and enjoy that which you have been given. The very moment, day, week and month goes by without much recognition; experiences, while enjoyed aren’t totally savored, because I’m always looking forward. Planning. Wanting.
The good news is that as I knock on the door of thirty, I realize this and am trying my damnedest to amend my way of thinking. The bad news is that I find changing my way of thinking next to impossible and to be a struggle of internal voice that says, “Is that what you should do? Yes, why not? You get one go ‘round…go for it. Yea, but what if…”
Growing up, my best friend’s father had a saying that always baffled me, yet the older I get, the more I get what he was trying to say, “Fail to plan, plan to fail”. As a teenager, I remember his sage advice irritating the piss out of his daughter who lived in her own little world filled with big dreams; being polar opposites, when we’d discuss some of these ideas, I’d respond with a young sense of jaded wisdom and an eye rolling “yea, but how practical is that?”
I was always the prepared one of the two of us: I studied in advance for tests, I did my homework the afternoon that it was assigned, I showed up to class fifteen minutes early. Now that I’m older, I have anxiety if I go somewhere unprepared: I like my phone to be fully charged before I get in the car. I carry a fully stocked first aid kit along with a rain jacket, knife and food in my backpack when I hike (I refuse to go on any trail without these things). I like to be at work fifteen minutes early (at the bare minimum). About a week ago, I was chatting with my friend T, who seems to live his life without schedule or planning. I told him that I was envious of this kind of living and his response made me smile, “It’s simple. Just quit thinking. When you plan, you miss out on what’s happening right now.” How I wish I could turn off the what-ifs and planning instinct that naturally occurs within me.
The tables have turned a bit (not in my neurotic need to be prepared, but in other ways). I find that the older I get, the more grandiose my dreams and wants become: they’re less and less practical and yet, I still want to follow through with them. For example, I want to travel (but I’m not really sure how to afford it), I want to rock climb (but I’m terrified of heights). I find that I live with my feet off of the ground and my head floating in the clouds more now than ever before dreaming and planning and wanting to experience new and different. Perhaps I’m aging in reverse; perhaps this is happening because I was such a serious and grounded child, who knows. The bottom line is that my friends T and Jess are both right: enjoy the present, don’t overthink it, today is a gift. If I look at life in this way, I can actually enjoy right now without yearning for the next thing to come along, without waiting for…whatever it is that I may be waiting for to happen. And when you stop looking forward, you hold pure happiness in your hands.