Life is all memory, except for the one present moment that goes by you so quickly you hardly catch it going.~Tennessee Williams
Last time we talked about time passing slowly. We can also perceive time being contracted or squeezed… It seems to rush by.
I’ve been experiencing this firsthand over the past year. After I was injured at work, had surgery and left my job, most of my days have been spent at home. The first months were spent in rehab and getting my shoulder back in shape.
After that, I was left with a lot of time and not much to do. Days passed without differentiation… Time was squeezed and two weeks would pass but my perception made me feel it was only two days…
My Father, who lives with us since my Mother passed away, has a t-shirt that sums this retirement malaise up perfectly. It says- “My week is six Saturdays and a Sunday”.
This is one of the dangers of not staying present. If we live with our eyes always looking towards “some day” or backwards to “I should have”, time will slip away quickly and leave us wondering where it went.
Staying Present To Fully Live Life
When we’re present, living in the now, we experience life and all of the little happenings that come with it. We participate in life instead of wishing it away.
An example of not being present is driving. How many times have you gotten in your vehicle and the next thing you’re conscious of is arriving at your destination?
Where did the time go? Retreating into our thoughts and not being present allowed time to speed away. We tend to do this with tasks that are routine or boring. We shouldn’t though.
If you have an hour commute to work each day you’re probably not present during the drive… You’re thinking of chores, what needs to be done at work, what you’ll be doing on the weekend… Everything but what’s happening in the now.
Without intending to you’re wasting two hours of your day being unconscious. We’re comfortable doing this because the drive is boring and time seems unlimited. Retreating into our thoughts instead of being present makes an unpleasant situation bearable.
Our time isn’t unlimited. During our hypothetical commute we waste ten hours a week. There are many people at this very second who are dying and would give anything for those ten hours we squandered. We’ll feel the same way too when it’s our time to go…
Appreciate Every Second
Wishing away time is a symptom of an unfulfilling life. If you find yourself living for the weekend you may need to make some changes.
If you’re unhappy with your life you’ll tend to fast forward through large parts of it. You run the risk of reaching the end and wondering where the time went.
I’m middle aged now, as hard as that is for me to believe. I don’t feel like I am. Sometimes I feel like I’m just starting out in life. I made the mistake of fast forwarding through the early years, looking towards a future that never really materialized.
At least I realize my mistakes now. The second half of my life will be lived in the present. I’ve learned how to stay aware and not go to sleep as I wait for “some day”. There is no some day, there is only now.
The sooner you realize this the fewer regrets you’ll have when it’s time to transition out of this life.
Connect With Your True Self Series Home Next: Looking Towards The Future.
John (I am so sorry I was calling you Doug!!)
As you might guess, this hits home for me quite deeply. Thank you for your poignant words and thoughts. In our culture we do not deal well in general with death or the fact that we are only here in this life a short time.
I worry it takes illness or death to force us to appreciate life and the present moment. I pray every day for the inner strength to choose living consciously in a world that feels like it wants to lull me to sleep with things that just don’t matter.
Thank you so much for your posts! Wishing you peace (and Doug too)
Lots of people think I’m Doug… The monkey gets all the credit! Some people actually know that I’m not Doug but still talk to him instead of me… Whatever works…
I believe our society is designed to keep us asleep. The default in all aspects of our lives is normally not good for us, whether it’s food, life decisions or entertainment choices… The easy is usually the worst choice.
It takes a conscious effort to be awake and to guide our lives in the direction we determine. It’s much easier to let these decisions be made for us. I struggle with this every day… Sometimes the effort is too great and I slip back into unconscious living. That’s why I’m not where I want to be in life yet, because I allow myself to take the easy path sometimes…
This is so tricky. You want to be in the now, but you want to be prepared for the future and base your life and abilities on your past experiences. Not easy to balance.
It’s very difficult to do. For me, spending too much time in the past or the future robs me of the present, and any progress I would have made towards my goals.