Is there no destiny other than the present?

Contribution by Isabel Hernández Negrín, Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain.

If my happiness at this moment mainly consists in going over memories and happy expectations, I am only vaguely aware of the present, and I will continue having this vague awareness of the present when the good things happen that I have been hoping for, since I will have formed the habit of looking backwards and forwards. Doing it in such a way that it is more difficult for me to pay attention to the here and now. So, if my awareness of the future and the past makes me less conscious of the present, I must start to ask myself if: “I am really living in the real world.” – Alan Watts.

At times we become bored, at other times, we do not agree with what is happening to us, we become overwhelmed to an exaggerated extent, we want the holidays to arrive right now, for days to pass at once, at other times, we get up and say “one more day” or “one day fewer”, or while someone is talking to us we are thinking how we are going to answer without knowing what the other person is going to end up saying.

And so forth, through any number of situations that seem normal to us. We always want to be or exist in a different time or place or mood. This is normal in the sense of being usual. We lose ourselves in memories or imagining something about the future, whether it is something enjoyable or threatening and we continue that way all day long. It is like being at home and looking at life through net curtains.

I do not see clearly what is happening, I feel distracted from life, absorbed by the constant automatic flow of involuntary thoughts. I end up believing that this is living. I live like a sleepwalker. I do not even imagine that any other kind of life may exist and that, what is more, it is within my grasp. Let us try something: imagine, without being scared, that today is the last day of your life. Imagine yourself in that situation. There is no point in thinking of anything and it is not worth losing yourself in memories. What do you have left? Sense your body, calmly. That is what there is. This moment, this present, this instant in which you just calmly perceive yourself. Do you believe that you could go out today focussing on being present within yourself at every moment?

If you do it, maybe you will realise that you can do anything in a different way, feeling differently. It will definitely be more pleasant when you come to sort out what you have to do, chat to those people you meet and even decide important and less important things. Life only occurs in the present, your actions, your projects and your work can only develop in the present and it is worth doing it with your eyes and all your senses wide open. Yours is the decision, fortunately! “Happiness is not in another place but this place…not for another hour, but this hour!” – Walt Whitman.