I've been thinking a lot lately about how difficult it is to live in the moment. This moment. Of course we're all actually living each moment, physically we're in each and every moment; there is no escape and no option. But mentally, emotionally... I am rarely in this moment.
Is this the human condition? Is this our normal state? Maybe all this talk about living in the moment is nonsense. I suspect it is, or at least partially so.
When I contemplate the subject I realise exactly how much of my time is spent planning for the future or examining the past. There are so few instances of the present being the main focus. When I'm cooking or eating a meal I'm often thinking about the next one or the special one I'm planning for the next day or the next week. When I'm dressing the kids for school I'm thinking about a myriad of school related issues or what I must remember to get done at work that day.
Holidays are one of the best examples of this: I will argue for the affirmative that the most enjoyable thing about family holidays is the planning and the memories. I love planning holidays; the daydreaming about how relaxing, exciting and fun they are going to be. It is a particular sort of savouring which no reality can ever live up to. Thinking back on holidays is also wonderful because the human mind is very good at editing out the bad stuff (or at the least turning it into a hilarious story) so that you are left with mental images of the great stuff sans the annoying stuff.
Let's be honest, most family holidays involve a lot of annoying stuff. No-one can tell me it's fun to hang around airports, entertain small children on never-ending flights, watch as your child refuses to eat an overpriced meal in an overseas restaurant. Yet my brain deletes all these scenes of irritation and keeps only scenes which involve me lounging around in the infinity pool with a Pina Colada in hand. Thus constantly making me yearn for the next holiday.
I've just finished reading Emma Donoghue's Room about a kidnapped woman and her five year old son living in isolation in "Room". I wouldn't say it's the best book I've ever read but it does give you food for thought. One of my trains of thought was about how much distraction we have in our lives; our lives are choc-full of stuff, so much of it... no wonder it feels like life is going by so fast. When these things are taken away, when people are isolated from all that and put in a restricted space with almost nothing to distract from the simple act of living... life is very different.
There is no moral to this story. I'm just musing on the tangle of thoughts floating around the void between my ears. I don't know the answers or if there are any or if we need any. I'm mostly happy to accept life for what it is. I don't think I can force myself to be in the moment any more or less by thinking about it. I just think the phenomenon of generally dwelling on the past or projecting into the future is really interesting. Is this what the idea of meditation all about? Is this why I find it impossible to meditate or often even sit still for very long? Have I unconsciously trained my mind to be a pinball machine ball, constantly bouncing from one idea, project, task to another? Hmmmmm.....