This morning, my best friend sent me an email with advice on facing the challenge of living the whole human experience. Like, Buddha, her words centred on living only in today. “No point beating yourself up about something in the past. It can’t be changed and it is what it is. It’s what we do today that matters most.”
Today … we only do today.
Her words made me think of how often I spend worrying about how I might have done things differently with hindsight. I also thought about how I carry past experiences around as easily as throwing a handbag over my shoulder and hence, forget that today I am doing “today”. It is amazing how well we can replay events in our minds and find reasons to blame ourselves for things we cannot change. We are adept at guilt inducing behaviour and letting today slip through our fingers before we even realize it and then, this too, becomes a lost opportunity for living.
Eckhart Tolle’s many books centre on living today for today by living each moment with awareness. His work focuses on the importance of the ‘now moment’ because it creates the power of being fully present in your life. Learning to live totally in each moment of our lives creates an expression of full awareness. Combine his thoughts with Kathy Cordova’s in her book, “Let Go Let Miracles Happen – The Art of Spiritual Surrender” and we see why it is necessary to stop trapping ourselves in a vicious circle of ‘if only’s’ and wishing. By carrying our past around, we cannot possibly be present in today. To let go of those things, we need to understand that they are actually hurting us; that they stop us from living.
We cannot undo the past, so why do we try? We also create the same dilemma if we only spend time on what has yet to be. Here we stand, perched between two realms; that of the past and the future … and we do so in the present. But we are not in the present are we? Our minds are elsewhere, our hearts are elsewhere and our experience is now elsewhere too. Is it that life just seems better in the past or the future we imagine and hence, it’s where we want to be? Or is it that we cannot shake off what has been because we are afraid that we might forget something important? Bruce Willis (actor) declared that “You can’t undo the past … but you can certainly not repeat it.” All of your past experiences, judged as good, bad or indifferent by you, in the journey that is your life … are important. They have shaped the being that you are and, if you have learnt from them, they have given you wisdom. Fond memories are just that and they are enormous fun to relive with close friends or family … they are touching, sad, exciting, passionate and fearful expressions of our lives and of the people we are. What they are not, however, is an excuse to avoid living in the todays of our life.
What we do today paves the way for our tomorrows. What we do right now creates our next now. If you remain in a past or post now, you are not in now and experiencing all that this one moment means to your life.
It is much easier to do the other. Being fully conscious of where you are right now is harder to sustain than a trip down memory lane or a daydream of what’s to come. But, if we do right now there is no room for anything else. Have you ever noticed that? If you are solely focused, or immersed, in one thing – there is no room for anything else. Your mind cannot hold another thought because it is consumed with what it holds right now. Now, you are living the NOW and if you slip out of it, so what, let it go and recognize it for what it is. There is a need to not hold things in anymore because our lives are too short to spend worrying about what might have been and if only, aren’t they?
Part of learning what living today for today means is the lapsing into times of regret, guilt, loss, fantasy and all that comes with this. If our reality embraces the acceptance of our lives being too short to worry about what might have been or has yet to be, then focusing on what we are doing, thinking, living, loving, believing, learning and being … here and now is important. Each pathway we choose brings us to our ‘right now’. There is no wrong, bad or wishing it was not so in this. It is, as my friend suggests, simply what it is. When Denis Whatley explained that “… the only moment of time over which you have any control is now” we learn that today is what matters most so how will you spend your ‘today’?
“Let Go Let Miracles Happen – The Art of Spiritual Surrender” Kathy Cordova. Conari Press 2003
“A New Earth – Awakening to your life’s purpose” Eckhart Tolle. Penguin Group Books (Australia) 2005
Whatley, Willis and Buddha Quotes: www.brainyquote.com