I have spent most of my life, it seems, either caught up in the past, which I can’t change, or the future, which I can’t control.
I suppose it’s something that most of us do. Certainly, we spend a lot of time in the River of Regret in our youth. We visit the river again later in life, looking back at all the wasted opportunities we let slip by or the horrendous errors in judgment we made at one time or another.
I certainly know that I spent a lot of time worrying about the future. I could explore all the angles with this brain of mine, running through different scenarios of boom or doom, depending on the moment. Things that could never possibly happen, or if they did, I had absolutely no control over to begin with anyway.
The simple fact is, we love to think we have control of stuff. I think it’s what brings a lot of drama into our life. We think we can affect the future by controlling relationships, our work, our friendships… you name it. We spend a lot of time trying to make things happen in each area, often forcing the proverbial round peg into the square hole just to demonstrate that we do indeed have control over our lives.
I’ve been fighting this again recently. Yes, I know better. I know there’s very little I can control in life. It’s part of our journey as humans. But I have to say that a video this week from Tony Robbins really hit me between the eyes to remind me once again to focus on the one thing I have control over: NOW!
I could regurgitate the whole idea myself and spare you a couple minutes of Tony. But he really says it fine, and he kept it mercifully short. Thank God, because I’m not a big Tony fan.
See? It’s so damned simple. We all know by now that life is painfully short. The endless horizon of youth now has an edge on it and someday we will fall off it. There is an end, somewhere out there. We don’t know when, but as we get into our mid to late 50s, we start to know that it’s out there.
Social media has been such a blessing and a curse for me. I see lots of people who have joyful lives. I see others who claim to be cursed by all that is happening around them. Me? I live a mostly happy life. Yes, I have my share of problems. But I choose to focus on the things I can control rather than the things I can’t.
It’s all about having joy in life. It’s a conscious decision to get up in the morning and look forward to the day holds. It’s about facing those things with passion, a sense of humor, a sense of purpose and even some playfulness. Sure, you might have some maladies as you age. I certainly have my share. But I treat them as best I can and I don’t try to be a downer, complaining to everyone else about the things in my life that aren’t working as they should.
I approach my work day the same way. Work has been a bit worrisome as of late. The legislature didn’t give us a very positive budget and we have to do some things differently than we used to. People are worried about their work and jobs and they can be in a pretty defeatist mood about it all.
Famously, when asked how I am, I respond, “Great!” I’m not lying. The day may even suck. I can’t control the suck, but I can control how I react to it. I can either let it drag me down or let it go. In the end, I have a job, I have a roof over my head, I have food in my tummy, great friends and a nice life. Most importantly, I have a woman who loves me for who I am, and who gives me such strength that I can face darned near anything.
I am lucky in that respect. But even when I was on my own, I was still good. I learned a few years back that it is always a choice. As Tony pointed out, we have control over one thing and one thing only – this moment.
It’s all we got. That’s one of the reasons people at work like to stop by my office and chat. I’m in a usual state of joy. Not all the time. That would mean I’m not being authentic. But even after all these years, I still have a passion for what I do, I have been lucky enough to get paid to be a creative and even write all of my adult life, and I get to live in this amazing world of ours, with all its ups and downs.
As you go forward with your own day, remember this simple fact. You can’t change the past, you can’t control the future. You can, however, live in the moment and enjoy it fully and unflinchingly. It is the only thing you have, my friend. Everything else, especially the illusion that you are in control, is a waste of time and energy.
So sit back, take a breath, pop a tall cool one if that floats your boat, take your hands off the steering wheel, turn off the smartphone and enjoy the life you were given through whatever miracle it is that put you here. You owe it to yourself and others to do this because you don’t know when you’ll reach that horizon out there, the one where everything you have here comes to an end.
Try it. It’ll take some practice. But as I keep finding out, it is the most freeing thing you can do in life, controlling how you are in the moment you are in, knowing that it’s all you have. And it’s yours to selfishly enjoy to the fullest in any way you see fit.
Living this way can change your stars. And it can change the world around you.
In the Emerald City, enjoying the moment. The moment. The moment.