Past, Present, Future.
Some people love the past, thinking about and studying everything that has happened up to now (possibly thinking that they will learn from it). Some people love the present since it’s what’s happening in the moment, the now – how many books have been written about mindfulness and experiencing this current moment? Tons. (This might be an offshoot of our newly, hyper-connected selves, but if you ask me, this mindfulness movement is wrong-headed, but that’s a topic for another post)
Now the past and the present are great, but if you ask me, extremely boring. I mean, what can you DO about the past and the present? Very little. You can make snap judgments about the present, and you can do absolutely nothing about the past, as unless we are able to figure out how to develop a true time machine, we can’t go back into the past. The past is done, and the present comes too quick to do much about.
That leaves the future. The future is a special place. It’s the only place in which your actions and words can make a difference. The future is the only thing you have the ability to change.
Some people feel that we can’t change the future. That’s of course completely wrong – if there is anything we can change, it IS the future. The future is our playground.
Some people say that it’s hard to think about the future – that it’s tough to predict things with accuracy. This is true, as long as you simply attempt to predict the future without even trying to shape it. The future really is one of the few things that you CAN shape, with your thoughts, actions, and feelings.
There are two schools of thought on this – the determinists feel that everything is pre-determined, that there really is nothing you can do about the future, it will just happen. On the other side, the free will folks believe that it is our actions which determine our future – that things, good and bad, only happen because we do, or do not, take certain actions.
While some people feel that it’s either/or, I tend to think that our lives are really a combination of both – there are certain boxes of determinism around us, and within those boxes, we have free will. It’s up to us to decide if we want to expand or even blow up that box. We are free to do many things, but once we but up against the edges of that box, we have a tough time moving out of it. We are stuck there, thinking that we have reached the limits of what we can do, thinking that we can’t go any further, even though we can – even though it’s just a simple mind shift which lets us tell ourselves that It’s ok to go there – not only will nothing bad happen – awesome things could happen.
If you really want to effect change, you need to blow up that box. You need to expand your box of determinism to include what you want out of life.
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