“Look to the past only as it brings you pleasure; look to the future only as it brings you hope.”
I have come to realize that there is no bad moment sitting in my garden. Whether it be breezy Sunday morning, or a moonlit evening, or a midafternoon thunderstorm. This was something that the aristocratic Edwardians truly understood. They lived in a time of war, high infant mortality rates and the uncertainties of disease which their money could not protect them from.
To them, life was a short and blessed journey to be savored and each day was to be met with gratitude. They created gardens and parks and follies searching always for the most pleasing vista from which to convene with nature.
Unburdened by technology or modern conveniences such as electricity or automobiles, they had more time for contemplation and appreciation of their natural surroundings and they used it as a means to manage the sorrow that passed through their lives. Why focus on your losses when you can contemplate a rose? Why pity yourself when you can take some air in a carriage?
There is a lesson in this I think. We have become so spoiled and wrapped up in ourselves. We want everything now now now; and no matter how much we have, we covet someone else’s good fortune.
In short, we have lost our ability to live in the moment. We still crave time spent out of doors, but we must be constantly engaged in organized sports, or cruising Disney World, or having music pumped through our ears.
We have lost the ability to just sit still and rest our minds.
Obviously there are all sorts of “fixes” for this … yoga, meditation, psychoanalysis, etc. But what all of these remedies fail to admit is that when it comes to controlling your thoughts – the buck stops with you. You can take all the classes or sessions you want, but empting your mind requires immense self-discipline and you are going to have to practice.
So how on earth do you start when you have 50-70 years of memories, worries, fears and disappointments to contend with?
The answer might be to adopt a very simple strategy. Try to simply become aware of all the times that you are not living in the moment, and once you start to notice your mind wandering to unhappy places, decide to think of one thing that makes you really happy. Anything will do – floating on your back in the ocean, hugging your dog, watching the sunrise. The point is to consciously break the cycle and then refocus on your current surroundings.
You may find yourself doing this on and off all day in the beginning – it is sort of like taking off your watch for the first time and then realizing just how often you check the time without needing to. Don’t let this put you off; let it encourage you to become a better master of yourself.