Life is full of endless transitions,
some preferred over others.
Of course, it’s more exciting and enjoyable for the transition ahead of you to be one you perceive as good.
Maybe you met someone special.
Or you are moving cities, states, or countries.
You are seeking a fresh start, however that may look.
We can, if we truly seek, discover the beauty between now and then.
your very life;
It can feel as if it is all on pause until you finally get there.
Landed that job.
Far too often, we trade life– what’s right here, right now– for the fantasy of what’s next: an idealized, hypothetical moment that may or may not ever come.
We, as Tom Hennen writes in Life of a Day, “examine each day before us with barely a glance and say, no, this isn’t one I’ve been looking for, and wait in a bored sort of way for the next, when, we are convinced, our lives will start for real.”
It doesn’t have to be this way.
We can choose, if we would like, to hold off on indulging ourselves in our idealized future. We can grow to accept and maybe even appreciate the present moment, all while still looking forward to what’s to come.
Oftentimes, we prefer the scenes we carefully construct in our imagination over how reality tends to unfold.
The vacation you are awaiting.
The new job you are about to start.
The reunion with family or friends.
It’s easy to over idealize what’s to come, isn’t it?
Our expectations for the future seem to be largely based on how we would like things to go, not on how they are likely to go or have gone in the past. We imagine what will bring us the most joy, and then we assume that is how life must unfold.
When we blind ourselves to everything /except/ how we want life to go, of course life is going to disappoint us.
Of course life is not going to behave as we would like.
Of course we are going to feel a heavy sense of disappointment.
What needs to change is our perception of life. The tendency to rush ahead to what’s next. Our inability to let this moment simply be this moment. Our selective vision for only on what’s on the other side.
Dismissing the potential of the present is due, in my opinion, to a lack of curiosity.
It stems from a view of a static, stagnant, and small Universe.
The human eye is capable of seeing 10 million different colors
Every second, your body replaces over 3.8 million new cells.
Your body contains about 60,000 miles of blood vessels, enough to wrap around the world twice.
In fact, why even bother with killing time?
Before the moment we have been impatiently waiting for comes, we have already begun anticipating the next.
What’s more telling is that killing time has grown to be a normal, acceptable part of our culture.
Do we have an unlimited amount of time?
Is time something we can dispose of so flippantly?
What might we be missing out on while we kill time?
But does killing time not also injure us?
What life is passing us by when we purposefully squander what little time we have?
Audre Lorde once wrote: “If you can’t change reality, change your perceptions of it.”
We actually can change our perception of reality.
Every one of us has our own, distinct perception of reality that’s created over the entire course of our lives and is heavily influenced by past experiences and interactions.
We create our own perception of reality, which means we can change it.
You can change how you experience reality in your daily life.
We don’t need to kill time and withhold joy and life from ourselves, nor do we need self-sabotage ourselves with our crushing expectations of the future.
By adjusting our perception, the future doesn’t constantly need to be a disappointment. We can be present with what is, while having a balanced, healthy optimism and even excitement of what is to come.
We prefer the anticipation of the future over the experience of the present, which means we are endlessly waiting. We are waiting for life to be just right or for a specific date, seeing the present as a time to be endured. As a result, we put our lives on hold.
Eckhart Tolle writes, “It is not uncommon for people to spend their whole life waiting to start living.”
There is something intoxicating in dreaming of what life will be like /then/.
The constraints and limitations of life will be temporarily lifted, and it feels like, for maybe the first time, life is going to align perfectly to our will.
Life will feel as it should once I get there.
By holding onto this false belief, we end up discarding a majority of our lives.
By letting time pass us by, our lives pass us by.
This is my singular life.
My moments, breaths, and heartbeats; they are all limited.
How can I fathom letting these moments pass me by?
Regardless of what may be next, there is plenty of life to be enjoyed in the present.
As I sit on the patio of my local Starbucks, I have the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains towering over me.
I have thousands of strong pines standing tall above me.
A thin, wispy layer of clouds cover the entirety of the sky, unlike anything I’ve seen.
There is a constant, subtle sound of people driving, talking, going about their day.
A couple just finished their bike ride with coffee,
While a group of kayakers appear to be just beginning their adventures with coffee.
A kid just rode by on one of those one wheelers like it was nothing.
A young family just walked out with a handful of pastries; I don’t ever think I’ve seen a kid happier than that.
There are paragliders hovering around in the air.
There are power lines, street lights, stop signs, prairie grass, leaves beginning to change color, and a sense of peace in the air.
My cold brew coffee is absolutely hitting the spot.
There is far more to enjoy in the “mundane” moments of life than what we could imagine.
Enjoyment, it’s thought, is reserved only for when we are off the clock, when the weather is just right, when we are finally reunited with loved ones, when our business takes off, or when we finally arrive at our vacation destination.
It’s completely normal to anticipate and enjoy these moments, maybe even more than our normal rhythms of life, but we must not limit our lives and our ability to experience joy to a mere fraction of our lives.
Yes, I am going to enjoy swimming in the creek this afternoon, picking my wife up from work, and eating a nice dinner on our patio.
I am just going to allow my energies and attention to focus on the gift of this moment, right here, right now.
Is joy something reserved for only certain occasions?
Can we experience appreciation for life regardless of where we are?
Are we only able to feel alive once we get there?
I am beginning to view life more like a choose-your-own-adventure story and less like a regimented routine that I must follow, regardless of how I feel.
You can find joy whether your newest endeavor is met with applause, criticism, or crickets.
You can learn to appreciate life whether you are laying on a beach or filing taxes.
You can feel alive whether you are enjoying a meal with a loved one or cleaning dishes.
By learning to find joy in the mundane, you rid yourself of the categories of mundane-extraordinary. You begin to see life for what it is: extraordinary.
You can learn to discover the beauty between, both now and then.