FUTURE starts and finishes in the PRESENT?
ISABEL HERNÁNDEZ NEGRÍN
Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain.
Let us start with this quote: “The present has an existence in nature; things past exist in the memory only; and future things do not exist at all, because the future is just a fiction of the mind, arrived at by noting the consequences that have ensued from past actions and assuming that similar present actions will have similar consequences.” (Thomas Hobbes).
Despite the fact that anybody who has observed this phenomenon knows all too well that the present is the only thing that exists, most of us continue behaving as if the past and future do exist, as if they are something solid like a mountain. The stubbornness of maintaining that this belief is true has consequences.
One of these is that we defer until tomorrow, things that are important, but difficult for us to deal with. As if the future has some form of guaranteed existence and, moreover, that it will be as I would like it to be. This calls for a double miracle. The present is what exists and it is not possible to act outside the present, what I do not do, does not exist.
We also project on to the future, the fears and worries that we have today. This is how anxiety is caused, for example. We need to perceive, not to think. If we have a fear, we have it now and we need to address it in the here and now, at this moment. This is the only time when we can observe it, understand it and let go of it. If we do not address our fears today, at the time when they arise, we project them on to an illusory future in which they will continue to pursue us.
When we believe that the future exists, we create hope. That is, the illusion that something good, sometimes something totally impossible, will happen later on. Let us be serious, is there a basis for believing this? If we are honest about observing our own existence, this is just a way of relieving the tension that we feel today by means of hopeful images.
You may say that you like to feel hope and what harm is there in that? Well, it has its negative side: we believe in something that is not true. We treat the present as a stepping stone towards a better future, when the present is all there is. We lose a connection with ourselves in the present moment and we become used to “seeing ourselves” solely through our projections on to the future (when we will have this; when we will achieve that, when this will be finished…) This does little or nothing to value the present, or rather, our real lives, which only exist in the here and now.
Do you think that this has few consequences? Observe what happens in your life when you consider that the future exists outside your imagination.