Let’s clarify: the idea of living in the now is not the same as Living for the now. I blame the prepositions for the confusion!
It’s not unusual for people to think when we discuss the importance of living in the present now, we mean to stop all plans for the future and pretend that tomorrow won’t come. That’s not the idea I’ve been aiming for.
When I think of living for the now, I do not at all think of being mindfully aware of the now. I think of people being extremely careless of the now.
I don’t think of peaceful, serene or joyous living. I think of a desperate attempt to avoid facing the turmoil and struggles of life. To me, living for the now is an excuse to indulge in irresponsibility.
We’ve heard the story about the cricket and grasshopper, yes? The grasshopper played all summer while the industrious ant worked hard to prepare for the winter—even though it was in the future, the ant knew it’d come.
The ant took in the poor grasshopper when the winter came, as the grasshopper had nothing, and the ant—due to his smart planning ahead—had plenty.
Ok, I know there’s a less kind version of that story, but let’s stick to the positives, shall we?
No one can wisely ignore the facts of life. Food costs money, so does housing, we all need to have plans for illness, and we do need to have contingencies set up.
However, we can do all that in the now without actually throwing our hearts, souls and minds into the future. We just can’t live in circumstances that won’t come about.
If you’re busy making plans for the future, don’t forget you can still enjoy the living now.
Your mind doesn’t have to be enduring the sickness that might come, you don’t have to be grieving for those who aren’t gone yet, and if you sacrifice your serenity for the troubles of a very uncertain future, you’ll suffer right now and in that future.
As an example, let’s go back to the coming of winter. We have a good idea of what that’s like, right? We make reasonable plans, with a bit of effort thrown into the mix for unusually harsh conditions.
If we plan for winter, we’re doing well. If we try to plan for the mother of all blizzards and the next Ice Age, our planning is probably going to kill our living in the now.
If however, we look around and say, “It’s not snowing now,” and make no preparations, we’re going to be in for some lousy, cold days.
It’s the difference in two small prepositions that make for a profound difference in concepts and ideologies. We need to be mindful of which concept we’re in!