Today's life is all about pace; if you do not keep up with the rat-race, you will be left behind. It is a strange race because you do not even wish to reach the finishing line--death. However, our experience proves that pace kills.
Whether death is something to be feared or not is another matter. The question isâ€”why do we always live as though there is light only at the end of the tunnel? Why don't we focus on enjoying the journey itself instead of putting enjoyment on hold until the journey's end? As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "We are always getting ready to live but never living."
Let go of the past, don't worry about the future
Making your past or your future the focus of your life can stop you from enjoying the present. Robert Nathan, the poet, wrote, "There is no distance on this earth as far away as yesterday." Life is about learning, enjoying and loving. None of this can be achieved if you continue to swing like a pendulum, either ruing over your past or worrying about the future. The past is unchangeable and the future is invisible. It would be best to remove these dimensions of time from our immediate awareness if they prevent us from making the best of the present.
Awareness of the past and future has its benefits. The past should serve as a teacher but not as a master. 'Experience is the best teacher' is what we have been schooled to believe. However, this is not true for most of us. Research has shown that many of us make the same mistakes repeatedly; we never seem to learn from experience. Focus not on the regrets but on what caused the regret and why. Then apply these lessons in your present life. The future is something that you need to plan for, and then, concentrate on fructifying those plans; this can only be done in the present.
The Power of the NOW
When you break apart the human notion of time into innumerable moments, you find that every nanosecond was the present at some time or will be the present at some future time. Briefly put, the past and the future were and will be the 'now' at some point. This moment you are reading this and it is as real to you as the feel of the purest silk against your skin. But the very next second, you find that, that moment is dead, and no longer holds the same significance for you. It is merely a memory that will eventually fade into near nothingness. The only moment you truly know is the now, which is always there. Charlotte Gilman has rightly said, "Eternity is not something that begins after you are dead. It is going on all the time."
By living in the past or the future, you are killing a lifeâ€”your life. Because life is Now. Raise yourself from the living dead, wake up, and bask in the brightness of the present. Now is a very powerful word, much more powerful than the term Present, which we have learnt to brush aside as just another indicator of time. When you say 'Now!' you feel shaken and stirred, like someone has poured cold water on your head. Now is your present, both literally and figuratively.
When you are sitting in the bus, do you think about where you have to go? Do you spend the entire ride worrying about whether you will be late or wondering if you will have a good time, wherever you are going? Try shifting your focus to the now for the next ride. Feel the texture of the seat, the sensation of moving along with the bus and so many other people, the rough wind blowing through the window and messing up your hair, the contrast of slums passing by juxtaposed with malls and multiplexes, the occasional act of chivalry when someone rises to let another sit, the expressions on your co-passengers faces, their clothes, the way the odour of the bus sticks to your clothes, and the countless other aspects of the whole experience.
When you do this, you might find yourself thinking about things you never thought about beforeâ€”such as what would happen if you kept on riding on the bus forever? If, perhaps, life had some metaphorical similarity to a bus ride? Whether the bus driver enjoyed his work? If buses were the same in your grandmother's time?
Break free from unnecessary shackles
Studies have shown that ninety percent of our thoughts are repeated from previous thoughts. We torture ourselves with the same mundane, uninspiring ideas everyday, so much so that we forget that things can be viewed in a new light, that the world undergoes a magical transformation every second. Capture the now and you will find unexplored vistas opening up before you. Perhaps you will come up with an idea that will stun the world; may be you will discover the key to solving the energy crisis; perhaps you will develop a new theory of metaphysics; or may be you will just feel unadulterated peace and happiness for a little while.
Just think of the treasure of good things that you will experience if you were to capture the now, every moment. This is living life the way it is meant to be lived, as a constant celebration of the fact that you are alive. Remember Margaret Bonnano's words, "It is only possible to live happily-ever-after on a day-to-day basis."