For many years, I existed in one of two modes:
Rewind or fast forward.
Watching the trailer for my imagined future or studying the game tape from my imperfect past. Rehearsing what I was about to say or revising what I should have said. Learning from yesterday or lusting for tomorrow.
Which left me little time to exist in any of the other, better, healthier modes:
Play and pause and stop and slow.
Sorry. Too busy checking off goals and chasing dreams and making plans to press any of those buttons.
Which seemed romantic and commendable and productive at the time. Besides, I liked who I was in those two modes. Hiding inside my head was an integral part of my identity.
But here’s what I didn’t realize.
When dwelling on yesterday and dreaming about tomorrow takes up too much of today, you lose the ability to be present. When you’re always focused on becoming and achieving and attaining, trying to get somewhere other than where you already are, you experience stress. And when you’re so busy getting to the future that the present is reduced to a means of getting there, you miss out on life.
I always loved what Eckhart Tolle said about this:
“To be identified with your mind is to be trapped in time. It’s the compulsion to live almost exclusively through memory and anticipation. And this compulsion arises because the past gives you an identity and the future holds the promise of salvation, of fulfillment in whatever form. But this creates an endless preoccupation with past and future and an unwillingness to honor and acknowledge the present moment and allow it to be.”
Truth is, I read that passage seven years ago.
But it wasn’t until recently that I started applying it.
And it turns out, he was right.
On the remote control of life, rewind and fast forward aren’t the only buttons worth pressing.