The other day, I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Okay, well since I don’t share a bed with anyone you could argue that my bed doesn’t have “sides” and this excuse for a melancholy day is trite and unreasonable. To you I have one thing to say: stop interrupting me when I’m trying to tell a story.
Anyways, after tinkering with a puzzle for a few hours and generally spacing out, I decided I had to do something to appease my mood and maybe engage in some sort of self-reflection that would drag me out of the small hole I had comfortably built myself a niche in. I resorted to an the old go-to of reading my own tarot cards. Before you groan and give me an over-the-top eye roll, know that I haven’t succumbed to some “new-age” existence where I only drink kombucha tea and follow the path of my spirit animal. Tarot cards, like anything else – offer a differing perspective and are completely open to an individual’s interpretation. A lot of the time it forces me to focus on a problem at hand and then actually take the time to process it.
Thinking about how I’m not new-age reminds me: Fuck, I need to bake some tofu tomorrow so I have something to eat this week. This entry isn’t about what the cards told me (although if you’re wondering my past card was the Four of Cups, my present card was Death, and my future card was Judgment) but the about the simplicity of what the three card spread tells us. With this spread the first card drawn represents the past, the next present, and the last future.
This got me to thinking about the intersection between the past, present, and the future, and what a delicate balance it is to consider all these things both independently and together – and how focusing too much on any one disrupts that equilibrium. For instance, fixating too greatly on the past is a recipe to drive yourself crazy. You dwell over things that guess what? You can’t do a damn thing about in the now. At the same time, it’s important to consider the past – who it has made us, and what can be learned in its wake.
I had an experience on a mountain bike ride a week or so ago – I was struggling a bit, it’d been almost two years since I’d even ridden a bike, let alone down a rocky, tree-lined trail. I was scared, definitely squeezing my brakes a bit more often than necessary, and wasn’t allowing myself to let go. My fearless leader and mountain biker extraordinaire, Heidi, stepped in and offered this sage advice: “Don’t look underneath you, look in front of you. It’s kind of like skiing or snowboarding too – whatever’s under you is already under you and you can’t do anything about that.”
Like a little bike Buddha she rode away and I found that not only did the ride become progressively better after that, but much like anything that happens during a period of existential crisis in your life – I saw it as a metaphor. What’s under me is under me, and all I can do is deal with what’s in front of me.
In case you didn’t know Audrey Hepburn was just as sharp in real life as her protagonist character Holly Golightly was in ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s.’ I’m sure Lao Tzu or the Dalai Lama have great things to say about living in the moment but I’m choosing Ms. Hepburn’s words today: “Pick the day. Enjoy it to the hilt. The day as it comes. People as they come. The past I think, has helped me to appreciate the present – and I don’t want to spoil it any by fretting about the future.”
The present is inarguably our greatest gift in life, and the easiest thing to lose sight of. We get stuck in the past, or hinge our sights so far on what’s next that we completely miss what in actuality is happening. Before we even know it, a solitary moment has become our past and we didn’t even get to enjoy it. “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” I’m not sure how I went from Audrey Hepburn to ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,’ but let’s just roll me making gratuitous movie references right now and appreciate the fact that they’re relevant (I could be trying to tie in ‘Wet Hot American Summer’ instead)
However, while I appreciate the present – I do think it is vital to hold space for the future. To have dreams, goals, and ideas. Not to put all your concentration into this facet of life, but to acknowledge it.
We run into problems when we don’t see the ebb and flow between past, present, and future. I realized when being “forced” to think about my own – that a lot of unhappiness is caused in my life when I spend time toiling over things I wish I had done differently in the past, didn’t appreciate what was in front of me, or was worried about the future.
Right now, my future does seem a little uncertain. I’ve got a degree and I don’t know whether I want to use it, hang it on my wall as a decorative piece, or add as kindling to a bonfire. I uprooted my life (well, what of it would fit in a 2007 Ford Focus) and moved across the country…again. Some days I wake up and I feel grateful for the opportunity to fully embrace every single second of every single day as I please. Others, I fret about my rapidly decreasing funds and lack of employment.
When this happens, I take myself back to the moment and consider if I’m happy. Like an overly positive Magic 8 Ball the answer is almost always “Yes.” While we cannot forget the implications of our past, and the fact that the future is real and true: we have to remember the moment, because really when it comes down to it – it’s all we’ve really got.