Angkor wat

Angkor wat

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Live in the present..or should you?

'Live in the present'! screamed the header. I scanned the article quickly: it was familiar sunday supplement content,urging people to 'savour today' and live in the moment and so on, and shun the past and future like they had yeast contamination. A healthy enough sentiment, most of us would feel.

But a moment's reflection of how often I was in these to-be-avoided areas outside of actual work time told me that the answer was an easy 70% of the time. Ranging from looking ahead to daily chores (In an hour I'll cut the cauliflower while the phone charges and then finish reading a paper while that happens) to looking back to re-live something or think how it could have been done differently (a hangover from the latest McCall Smith or Foyle's war episode to the unresponsiveness of a newly thought out experiment and possible variations), I seem to spend most of my time 'cheating' the present as the article called it.

On thinking a bit there seem to be three specific tasks during which I am 100% present: in conversation with people one to one(here I am usually fully attentive),when actually setting up or carrying out some experiment, and when studying something and concentrating on understanding or working it out. But that's about it for the present really..a pretty shabby show. Walking, brushing teeth, cooking, folding clothes, day dreaming, tuning out when other people are talking in groups or watching endless documentaries (:P), making up stories for things that may happen tomorrow..what happens to all of these then?? Not to mention imaginary conversations and possible future discoveries (And now we present the Leakey award 2052- for the leader of this most daring expedition that uncovered the last of the dragons..). I am all in favour of savouring today. But if it takes up all your time, when do you savour tomorrow and rewrite yesterday? They better make some new rules.


Abhijith said...

Ha ha! You said it! You have given expression to all the thoughts that run through my mind every time someone tells me to 'live in the present'!
I couldnt agree more!

The Electric Monk Wannabe said...

Maybe you mean watching one documentary endlessly :P

The present is thoroughly overrated. Of all the cheats i employ on the present, one is my favourite - spend six months of the year looking ahead to being in the mountains, and spend the remainder of the year thinking back to how wonderful it was! :)

There is also a strong case you might make for the 'augmented present' - the condition wherein you return from the mountains and spend the next two weeks scanning high up over the horizon convinced that there are mountains hidden behind the clouds :)