Friday, April 25, 2014

Now & Next

So I've been reading a lot of Raptitude lately.  That's probably why this post exists, and if D.C. has already written it, sorry! 

I struggle with when I am.  It's always my temptation to live in the Next thing, the next job, the next house, the next town, the next meal, etc.  Not that I necessarily act on making all of these nexts a reality - if I did I would be broke.  But they're often when my mind is.  It is rare, except in study, with my family (sometimes) or carpentry, for my mind to be Now. 

This may be viewed by the unreflective as forward-thinking, goal-oriented, a successful mindset.  Where are you going is always on the mind of the students I teach at university.  Kids, I've gone, and then when I was done going, I wasn't sure what I was doing, so I started going again.  In my life that looked like school, job, grad school, new job (where I am now - and must admit I wonder where I'm going next).

But if you think about it, it's actually terrible.  It means I'm almost never interested in what's in front of my face.  This is an awful way to live.  We are always NOW.  There will never be a time when I actually get to live in the Next, because it's categorically excluded from the Now.  All of my plans for what's Next must necessarily become a Now if they are to be realized, and what will I do then?

This is one of the things that has stalked me my whole life.  What happens when you get what you aimed at?  When you arrive at your destination?  When you finish the project/book/degree?  The only coping mechanism I have figured out is to find another goal and start running again. 

But this is not who I want to be.  It is not how I want to live with my family.  "Well, these little guys are great, but I wonder who the next kid will be?"  It's not how I want to live with my church family.  "Sure, those are great plans, I'm just not sure if I'll actually be in this time zone when you want to do them."  It's no way to save for financial independence.  "Well, the next job will pay better.  The next purchase will be better optimized.  The next lifestyle change will clinch it.  When I'm FI, I'll figure out how to enjoy the little things." 

We are only ever Now.  We intersect eternity and infinity at one spatiotemporal point.  What are we doing about it? 

Obsessing about the derivative of Now is irrelevant if we have no bloody idea what our initial condition is.  (This is for those who remember their basic calc and diff-eq.)

Of course, we are Now but moving towards Next, so it is right to plan, to think ahead, and to be wise in anticipating what may happen.  But when we lose sight of what to do now.  Here.  Today.  to accomplish what we aim at tomorrow, we are not building for the future.  We are imagining the future while squandering the present. 

So I am going to attempt to be more mindful of Now.  To focus on the job at hand.  When I plan, it should begin with Now, and work towards Next (instead of saying "What a nice Next that will be when the sweeping current of time takes me there!").

Now, back to business.


  1. This blog has taken an interesting turn. It does not surprise me. CVC.

  2. Yes, as one of the main points was to chronicle our development through this project. There have been many unexpected twists and turns, but I think we have been growing in good ways for which I am thankful.