The Challenge of Looking Forward or Backward!
I was driving to town the other day remarking to my wife about our extremely warm, late winter/early spring weather. The trees are starting to get their leaves, and fruit trees are beginning to blossom. Some of our neighbors are putting vegetables in the ground. Normally, people don’t start planting until mid-May.
My first thought was that these temperatures aren’t normal. I started quoting the average high and low temperatures for this time of year. My conjecture was that it surely has something to do with global warming. Then I moved on to worrying that there may be a frost that would damage the fruit.
All of a sudden, I realized what I was doing. I was putting my attention on either the past when I was comparing today’s temperatures, or the future, when I was worrying about a frost. While doing this, I was missing out on the beauty of today!
This is familiar to most of us. We spend time worrying about the future. Our inner questions are about what could happen. The more attention we place on the future through the lens of fear, we are both less present to what’s going on around us and see fewer possibilities.
Focusing on the past has even more interesting consequences. We look at the past as if it is a predictor of the present and future. We forget that every moment is unique. The myriad factors that make up my experiences right now can never be replicated. So, believing that the past will be duplicated is a formula for disappointment.
The only way to clarity is in the present moment.