Once there was an episode on a sci-fi series called Farscape called “Thank God it’s Friday…Again”. In it, the residents of the planet were drugged into working every day. Every day they were told that the next day was going to be a “rest period”. Every day they worked joyfully, and then they partied at night. Then they would get up again and work hard in the fields again, thinking it was Friday, again.
It was genius, really. Convince them that they were almost there. It was the carrot just out of reach. It was the Promised Land. It was retirement. It was a vacation. They were always living for some other time, some time other than right then. They were happy because they were about to rest, but the rest never came. They were getting exhausted because they never really got to rest. They were duped by a society that drugged them into compliance. Sound familiar?
Our society teaches us this. We are taught to live for the future. We are taught that there is a mythical tomorrow where everything is going to be better and brighter and happier. We are drugged by television “reality” shows and five hour energy drinks. We are drugged by too much of the wrong kind of food. We are drugged by ads that tell us “you deserve this”. We are drugged all the time and we don’t even know it.
I’ve heard of prisoners who were taught to meditate. They were taught to not focus on their lives that they imagined were going to be like once they were released. They were taught to not focus on what they had done to get in prison. They were simply taught to just be, in the moment, right then. Just feel the feelings that are happening, whatever they are, right now.
We are all in prison and we don’t even know it. We are in a prison without walls. It is the prison of culture that tells us that we aren’t good enough, aren’t beautiful enough, aren’t smart enough. It tells us that we simply just aren’t enough, no matter what. However, we can do the same meditation that the prisoners do. We can be, right here, feeling our feelings right now. We’ve been taught to run away from our feelings, from ourselves, from our lives. We spend so much time living in the past or the future that we never spend time actually in the now. Now is all we have.
So it isn’t Friday. It isn’t even Thursday. It is Monday, or Tuesday, and you aren’t there yet. It isn’t retirement. It is just your third year on the job, and you’ve got at least 20 more to go. It isn’t the Bahamas, it is the Bronx. Be here now. Be right here. If you aren’t happy where you are, then you won’t be happy there either. If you don’t appreciate what you have, then why would you appreciate what you are going to get?
Stop living for the future. It never comes. When you get to the future that you’ve dreamed of, you’ll have spent so much of your life living in a fantasy that you won’t know how to just be in the moment, right then. It is better to start just being in the moment. Practice now. It is all you have.