This post is from June 2010 but it’s still relevant for me.
Future tripping: obsessing and worrying about the future. Playing the “what if” game. You would think this is my favorite game given how frequently I play it. I construct an entire sequence of events before they even occur. I’ve been doing that this week because I’m planning a 200-person retreat taking place at the end of this month. I’m thinking about, “Who will be the lunch in charge? Who will take care of the kids? What happens if so and so turns up? What happens if so and so doesn’t turn up?” There are sooo many things I’m contemplating and so many outcomes it’s making my head spin.
I also think about how futile the whole thing is. Months ago my friend L’s sister was in town and they invited me to go out to dinner with them. Because of the timing and the location of the restaurant it didn’t make sense for me to go home first. So I started planning and planning and planning. Ruminating on where I would go after work. What I would do with myself. If I would try to read a book or whether I would practice qigong. If I would wander around Chinatown. Where would I meditate. What would happen if I meditated at a temple and then walked around afterward. So many things! So many possibilities! And you know what happened? The night we planned to go out to eat L’s sister got sick and they canceled. They canceled! I spent all that time thinking about what I would do and then none of it took place! All of my worrying was completely fruitless.
It was a nice reminder for me to live in the moment and stay present. It was a nice reminder I’d rather deal with things as they come instead of counting my chickens before they hatch. Because the truth of the matter is I have no idea what’s up ahead. I have no idea what tomorrow brings or even what the next 10 minutes brings. And since I’ve redefined my concept of a higher power, I know that no matter what’s ahead it’s for my good. So why worry? Why plan my whole life in advance?
Some things, like this retreat, require planning. Otherwise we might be sitting around twiddling our thumbs, but honestly, I don’t have to plan everything. I don’t have to think about, “Well what if this happens? Or that happens?” If it happens it does and I’ll deal with it then. Be prepared, yes, but not obsessive. I think that’s the difference.
In the case of going out to dinner with L and her sister, bring a book but also see how I feel at the time. Prepare but allow for all possibilities. I want to allow myself to still deal with situations as they come up and not hold onto what I think will happen like a dog chewing a bone. There’s no need to constantly replay situations in my head like a CD stuck on repeat.
I dream of a world where we allow ourselves to stay present. A world where we take things as they come one day at a time. A world where we release our fear of the future and instead live in the moment. A world where we know what’s ahead is for our own self-realization and growth and so we sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.
Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.