Journey to ?'elsewhen'? Print E-mail
News - Final Word
Tuesday, 25 March 2014 12:29
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“Sometimes a person has to go back, really back – to have a sense of understanding all that’s gone to make them – before they can go forward.”

So said author Paule Marshall. This sentiment is actually also the mantra of therapy – that you have to go back to unearth your life theme, to understand why certain patterns keep repeating themselves in your life. And while doing all of this, you sort of have to keep an eye on the future, which you’re supposed to propel yourself towards with great enthusiasm.

They say that we are the only species who can do this – imagine the future, and predict how much we’ll like it when we get there. In his book, ‘Stumbling on happiness’, Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert describes the illusions of foresight, which causes us to misconceive our tomorrows and make the wrong estimates about our satisfactions.

Why do we know so little about the hearts and minds of the people we are about to become? Shouldn't we know the tastes, preferences, needs, and desires of the people we will be next year?

“Shouldn't we understand our future selves well enough to shape their lives – to find careers and lovers whom they will cherish, to buy slipcovers for the sofa that they will treasure for years to come? So why do they end up with attics and lives that are full of stuff that we considered indispensable and that they consider painful, embarrassing, or useless?”

“Why do they experience regret and relief when they think about us, rather than pride and appreciation? How can they be disappointed when we accomplish our coveted goals, and why are they so giddy when they end up in precisely the spot that we worked so hard to steer them clear of? Is there something wrong with them?”

According to Daniel this happens because, when we imagine future feelings, we find it impossible to ignore what we are feeling now and impossible to recognize how we will think about the things that happen later.

He says that to learn from our experiences we must remember them, but for a variety of reasons, memory is a faithless friend. “Practice and coaching get us out of our diapers and into our britches, but they are not enough to get us out of our presents and into our futures.”

Why on earth is it that we’re all so preoccupied with the future? It’s not a place we’re going to spend the rest of our lives in; it’s a place we never get to because when we get there it is ‘now’ again.

Eckhart Tolle writes that seekers look for self-realisation in the future. To be a seeker implies that you need the future and if this is what you believe, it becomes true for you. You will need time until you understand that you don’t need time to be who you are.

All that is needed to become free of this illusion is to become aware of it. Eckhart says that awareness is the power that is concealed within the present moment. That is why we call it the presence. You can only be present now, not yesterday or tomorrow.

For me it’s sort of like those optical illusion pictures. Remember the picture of the black chalice that suddenly became a picture of a pair of silhouetted white faces before flipping back into a black chalice again?

I sort of slip into and out of the present moment like that. Look, I do get it – that to constantly rush towards the future means that you miss the entire point of existence. But, suddenly the two faces shift; I see the chalice again and pop goes the weasel: I’m back on the future-oriented treadmill.

Girlfriend, if you feel as if you’re spinning off that treadmill, or worse, off the entire planet, it’s because you probably are. We’ve made a monster of multi-tasking. Doing too many things at the same time, we send our thoughts ahead or back, so that we’re never where we are.

You are not your fleeting thoughts, your projections into the future, your flinging back to the past or your emotions about these. You are the one aware of them.

Still, you cannot fight against slipping into a fast-forward kind of mindset, just as you cannot fight against darkness. The light of awareness is all that is necessary.
You are that light.


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