Past Present Future
Last night I forced myself to plow through the remaining three boxes of soaked and moldering correspondence, notes and journals left over from my studio flood. I found lots of things in there. It was like speed reading – superficially examining – my past scribblings page by page to decide if they were worth salvaging.
It was exhausting, embarrassing and interesting. I found project notes – I didn’t remember – from my university days about documenting the city. Seems my interest in the city has deeper roots than I recall.
I found an inch thick paper stack program listing of a game I wrote in assembler in one of my final computer classes – and sadly said a poignant goodbye to it. Mostly I remembered past emotion these papers keyed open. The entire time I kept asking myself what I was doing – why I was bothering – when the easy exit of my recycling bin beckoned just metres away. I don’t know why I kept going. I suppose I imagined this record of my past is important – will be important one day.
This awful task caused me to reflect on living in the present vs the past vs the future. If living in the past stunts growth and fosters pain then that’s an undesirable option. If living in the future causes perpetual unhappiness over ever elusive goals, then that’s counter productive too. Which leaves living in the present. By all accounts I’ve read, this is the only option and I do see the value of it.
But… if you live in the present how are you to reconcile it with having and working toward goals – since those are future oriented? Doesn’t living in the present preclude aspirations and mean taking life moment by moment? How then are we to grow in any kind of productive consistent way? I see the value of living in the present but at the moment I’m not clear how to harmonize that with a desire to progress.
I want to live in the present – it feels good, but how am I to grow?
Asking this, I’m glimpsing perhaps the answer is not to consciously aspire – but rather allow myself to wander where the wind takes me. There was a time in my life before graduation – when I lived this way without realizing it – and there have been times since. I remember them fondly – being happy and unworried yet still growing and progressing in a consistent direction.
Is this the way?