Lesson 9: living in the moment

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It’s a strange time of year, March. We are so well and truly over Winter. A ping of excitement surges through me when I leave work in daylight, my once-loved jumpers, boots and coats are starting to look a bit tired and I find myself scrolling through all the festival line ups, daring to imagine how it feels to dance in a field with mud in my hair. The thing is though, and I hate to put a downer on it, Summer is quite far away. We have an entire season to get through first, and it’s a temperamental one at that. I’ve decided that this year I’m not going to spend every day from now counting down to the sunshine, because it’s not a healthy attitude to have in general. Yes, it’s great to have things to look forward to, but what about today? The journey to the destination is sometimes the most significant part. A bit like when you go round someone’s house to pre-drink before the main event – quite often this is more fun than the place you end up.

The main reason I’m adopting this frame of mind is because for a while now, I’ve been looking forward to just being in the future. It’s a dangerous wish, to fast forward time – like that film, ‘Click’. I’ve become so preoccupied with dreams of owning a home, having a more senior job, travelling the world, that I’ve started to lose sight of all the positive things in my life right now. Looking back at me three years ago, I thought all I needed to be happy was to live and work in London, rent my own place and write with a purpose. I have all of those things now and I’m ashamed to say that I no longer appreciate them. The same way we often don’t notice how beautiful or fun Spring can be because we’re too focussed on the fact it’s not quite Summer. If we are forever chasing more, how will we ever feel satisfied?

Yesterday I moaned to Joe about our flat not having a bath. I never have baths, but at that precise moment I wanted one and felt hard-done by. I then complained that the sofa wasn’t big enough before staring miserably into our tiny excuse for a garden. Joe completely shot me down. As he quite rightly reminded me, I moaned about not having a place of our own when we were living with his parents last year. In a house, I might add, that had a bath I never used and a huge garden I didn’t always appreciate. I know I’m not alone in this. Ok, sometimes we’re just venting our anger or frustrations at house-hold objects rather than people, but that doesn’t make it ok to constantly want more than what we have.

I do it with clothes all the time. I tell myself that if I just had one more pair of trainers, or one more jacket, or one more bag, my wardrobe would be complete and I would be happy. Then I see something looking amazing on someone else and instantly assume that a) their life must be wonderful, and b) if I buy it I will be happier. Obviously, I’m wrong. We are often so preoccupied with chasing the dream that we don’t even acknowledge the feeling of that dream coming true – we’ve already moved on to the next hole in our lives that needs filling.

Whether we choose to admit it or not, there are people in the world who have very little. There are people with no friends, no family, no education, no source of income, no health, no home. In our quest for leading perfect, possession-filled lives, we’re starting to lose sight of the things that really matter, the things some people would do anything to have.  There is nothing wrong with being optimistic about the future, so long as it doesn’t cast a big shadow over everything you’re doing right now. It’s ok to let the future take care of itself sometimes. It’s not going anywhere, unlike today – tomorrow, today will be gone. ‘Look after the pennies’, my nan always says. If you appreciate the small things, the big things will fall into place.

The next time you feel hard-up, take a moment to note down all the good things in your life. Think twice about whether your job is really that bad, or your wardrobe really needs updating, or your life really sucks. Chances are that it doesn’t. It’s just some cruel trick of the mind that’s inherent to human nature telling you it does.Whatever the future holds, just be glad that you made the most of today. That’s all we can ever do.

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