Walking the tight rope of life entails keeping an eye on the past, projecting into the future, and struggling to stay in the present. When it comes to money, I often find myself making projections into the future: a month from now, 6 months from now, a year from now, 5 years from now, a decade from now, decades from now. So often, I’m planning for the future, I find myself struggling to stay in the present. I know that the ultimate goal of all this future oriented goal planning is not to spend the present projecting the future, but often times I feel like all I am wasting the present for a future that has not yet arrived.
These thoughts are often swirling around in my head and some quotes I recently read by Alan Watts pushed me to write these thoughts down.
What we think of as “the past” isn’t really a record of an earlier time. Rather, it’s a fiction, created on-the-fly, something our brain is building right now. Similarly, what we think of as “the future” is just our brain running a simulation. That simulation is also happening right now. What we remember of the past and what we think of as the future are illusions. They aren’t telling you anything about the past or the future. They are telling something about you right now.
We are living in a culture entirely hypnotized by the illusion of time, in which the so-called present moment is felt as nothing but an infintesimal hairline between an all-powerfully causative past and an absorbingly important future. We have no present. Our consciousness is almost completely preoccupied with memory and expectation. We do not realize that there never was, is, nor will be any other experience than present experience. We are therefore out of touch with reality.
I often gravitate to forums where the average age skews more to the grey. I find the threads on “mistakes made in life” the most interesting. Often times, it’s repeated by those with more years that a major mistake is to trade your health and time for money and then when one is old and frail, attempt to trade the money back for health and time.
I try hard to learn lessons on time and money vicariously. I want to minimize major mistakes related to time and money, because the only other way to learn these lessons is to go through them yourself by expending time and money.
I’ve already made it clear that time is the most important resource. This belief can’t be true if time in the present is wasted on constantly thinking of the future. Time is to be cherished in the present. Finding that balance between the future and the present is an ongoing journey. I found glimpses of that balance in Iceland. But it’s still elusive.