You live within your thoughts much like a passenger on a train. As the external world travels through various places you might be inclined to say you are in this place or in that place, but in fact you are not where the train is, you are where you are within that train. The train of thought.
There will be some people who will congregate at the front of the train, worried about what fate might be around the next corner. Maybe a bridge has fallen, they will think. Or maybe some track’s been washed out. Their mind builds and rebuilds various bad outcomes. So even though the train may be currently travelling through beautiful vistas their minds are focused on anxieties about the future.
There is another group near the back of the train. They aren’t even able to see the external world because they’re in the baggage car, digging through their past. They’re either wishing they had packed this experience or that experience into their earlier life, or they’re regretting the experiences they did pack in. Again, the train travels through beautiful mountains and valleys, past rivers and wild animals, and yet the person in the baggage car sees nothing as they focus instead on packing and repacking the same bags over and over and over.
Then there are the people who are Present. They’re in that car with the glass bubble on the roof. The Viewing Car. By not worrying about the future or regretting the past with a sense of guilt or loss, they leave their consciousness open to bear witness to the universe. They can see in every direction and their mode of travel isn’t to output fears or regrets, it’s to input the world around them. They are actively listening with their entire being.
Fears and regrets do not change the direction of the train. We can choose to abandon our truly meaningless efforts to affect the future or past, and instead we can surrender into the Moment—into the quiet comfort of the viewing car.
We don’t need to figure anything out. Not the past, not the future. We can live in the Now. We can Be Present. We can be conscious of the fact that time is an illusion. The only time we can act to affect our lives is Now. So we must stay present. We must not f0rgo the serious beauty of our own personal landscapes. Not for truly pointless thoughts we don’t enjoy.
Get out of your head and into the world instead. It’s a beautiful mystery. And it has a special place for you. And that place is where you are right Now. Enjoy.
Scott McPherson is a writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.