The scary part is that you know what we want to do. We’ve probably rehearsed it in our heads for a long time. And yet we don’t act. Why?
Why don’t we leave that bad relationship? Why don’t we ask that person out? Why don’t we quit that lousy job? Why don’t we get up on stage? Why don’t we go travelling, or have a baby, or pursue some idea that our peers or family think is crazy?
Why are we leaving our life un-lived? It’s a question we should all ask ourselves:
What is our motivation for avoid the pursuit of each of these things? In general, it’s some collection of fears involving our own self-worth, rejection, failure, or possibly even physical pain.
But does avoiding those things remove failure, rejection or pain from our lives? Hardly. Most people suffer more in a hour than a reasonably conscious person would in a month. People today are tortured by their own minds. Not through disease, but through misuse.
All day long people skip their consciousness like a stone, over the “highlights” of our lives. We build multiple scenarios of what might be, or what should have happened. And then we react to each of our own imagined narratives, and each reaction leads to another set of narratives.
This process can go on for years. It can happen inside our heads as ruminations, or outside our heads, like when people get together with others and gossip to try and get ahead of the game —to ensure success. But what is ‘success?’
How can we be successful when our consciousness is focused on tomorrow or yesterday? We’re not alive in either. There is no way to navigate life unless our energies are focused on the experience we’re having in the moment we are in, right now.
We cannot change what we did, and we cannot do what we might. We can only act in the moment we are in and it is that moment that people should be focused on. Because that moment is where we live.
It’s important that we comprehend that our ruminations and gossip are themselves experiences. We are not avoiding an experience by thinking about it. Thinking about it is an experience.
To us, it doesn’t matter if our thinking is quiet –like when we create internal conversations about something– or if it’s out loud like gossip. The moment we’ve engaged our consciousness with something real or imagined, it is an experience.
The time we spend there is an unrecoverable part of our lives. It has been spent. That is the regret many people have on their death bed. They realize only then that they only had time for a limited number of experiences.
Being near the end of them, people suddenly get very clear about the fact that it would have been wise to spend less time discussing or contemplating how to ‘win’ or ‘be popular,’ in favour of more time just spent on the simple joys of everyday life.
Ultimately, it is much more rewarding to focus on having actual experiences in the moments we are in, rather than investing time and energy on thinking about people’s judgments of previous –or even only potential– experiences.
Those are thoughts, that obscure our ability to create a better reality with our focus.
Stop to think about it: is your life going to end today? This week? This month? This year? In one of the years ahead? It’s one of those for sure. Since our death is inevitable, the only question becomes: what are we going to invest our time experiencing between now and that particular date and time?
That is the only question that ever matters. And every single moment of our lives we will answer that question with the choices we make. We would all do well to remember that as we make our choices today.
Life is short. Make sure you’re awake for it. 😉
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.