I used to not know how to live in the moment. I didn’t know how to really appreciate the joy that experiencing the here and now can bring. It took spending time with more than a few people who lived life so gingerly that it no longer appeared to be enjoyable to see how important it is to throw caution to the wind. Or at the very least forget about it for a little while.
Have you ever played chess or seen someone play chess? Typically chess players think 3-5 moves ahead and focus on the most plausible ones. It’s possible to play on instinct and still make good choices, and this instinct comes from years of experience. But what happens when a person lives their life like a chess player and plans out every experience 3-5 moves ahead? What happens when every move is so calculated and examined that only the safest and danger-free path is chosen to avoid being hurt or disappointed? What happens when it’s not just the plausible moves that are considered and they conjure up some implausible ones as well?
There is a definite need for planning ahead and ensuring that you have some sort of loose plan for your life. However, recently I’ve been spending time with some folks who have made me realize even more the importance of enjoying the present because worrying about the future only diminishes the experience. They’re leading their lives like chess players and trying to think of the possible moves that they can make so that their lives will be easier. When you plan your life out using a flow chart of your options you may think that you’re living life smartly, but you’re really limiting yourself to the number of wonderful possibilities available to you and living by a set of restrictions.
Even though I never really got in to the SoCal way of life after living in San Diego for 8 years I did learn the importance of letting go, even if it was just a little bit. Not that I planned my life out step by step, but I would think about things so much that I ended up not taking any action at all and therefore missed out on a lot of fun. Southern Californians lead lives that are wonderfully laid back, and even when things aren’t going so well there is always time to relax and enjoy the sunset or surf, to have a a drink with a friend, and to enjoy the sound of the palm trees rustling from the light breeze coming from the ocean. It was important to take in the beauty of the now and not worry about pressures of every day life. It was important to live. I picked up on some of that and I’m so much more relaxed for it.
Try not to limit your decisions to some fabricated flow chart of your life. Do your very best to take the experiences of your past and learn from them without becoming colder and closed. It’s not an easy thing to do because by being open to new experiences there is the distinct possibility that you will get hurt. And there is also the distinct possibility that you will experience something wonderful and feel a little more alive.
Live in the moment.