Monday, September 24, 2012

Visiting the Future (Or, the Pitfalls of Living in the Moment)

The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly. ~Buddha

Forever is composed of nows.  ~Emily Dickinson

Rejoice in the things that are present; all else is beyond thee.  ~Montaigne

It is only possible to live happily-ever-after on a day-to-day basis.  ~Margaret Bonnano

Yesterday is history.  Tomorrow is a mystery.  And today?  Today is a gift.  That's why we call it the present.  ~Babatunde Olatunji, a similar version is also attributed to Alice Morse Earle

If you worry about what might be, and wonder what might have been, you will ignore what is.  ~Author Unknown

Pile up too many tomorrows and you'll find that you've collected nothing but a bunch of empty yesterdays.  ~The Music Man
Quotes and attributions found at Quote Garden

Photo from
These quotes all have one thing in common: they urge us to live in the moment. One day at a time. Seize the day!

What they don’t tell us is that living in the present all the time can be detrimental, too. You see, I’m rather an expert at living in the moment, much to my OCD, Type-A, anal-retentive husband’s frustration. I’m his complement. I keep him from getting too stressed out about certain things, and since he’s been in Alcoholics Anonymous, he’s been trying to adopt some of my ways. But I’ll let you in on a secret: I’m glad he hasn’t been able to do it entirely. Not the drinking—he hasn’t had a drop in years. I’m referring to his inability to let his anxiety about the future go.

Strange, right? Well, I have a pretty good reason. Living in the moment causes me to procrastinate. Why do today what can be done right before the deadline? Yes, I procrastinate, and yes, I cut deadlines to the wire. That works for me. Mental blocks seem to melt only under the pressure of “one more hour left.” I’ve tried to do work earlier, but then—oooh, shiny! My life is so much in the present that most events sneak up on me, regardless of my calendar staring at me from the wall.  

I’ve talked about hobby ADHD before. This is part of my problem. I get distracted by all the cool new stuff I could be doing, and put off what I should be doing. My one saving grace is that I get things done on time. Mostly. Budgeting is a struggle. If not for my husband, I’m certain creditors would be all over me for late or missed payments. For some reason, billing deadlines filter right out of my brain (unlike other types of deadlines, like when papers were due in school, or when I have to get papers graded to my students; those I remember). A solution I've adopted is using the task reminder in MS Outlook. I have it synced to my phone and iPod (never can have too many bells chirping, right?) and set up the reminders for DAYS in advance. So far, it seems to help.

My point is one of moderation, even with One Day at a Time living. Don't spend too much time in the past or future, but make sure you visit them both. For short durations. This is something I’ve yet to master, but I keep trying. Hopefully, I’ll get the hang of it soon. 

Do any of you struggle with living too much in the past, future, or moment? How do you handle it?


  1. I really like the message of your post. I like having things to look forward to in the future. Sometimes I get too caught up in the day to day and then, like you, things sneak up on me. I never like to wallow in the past but sometimes you have to revisit something to let it go. I feel it's important to have things in life to look forward to, AND it's important to enjoy this moment right now :)

    1. Looking forward to things is a great way of living in the future for a little bit! Thanks for commenting, Kellie!

  2. I can so identify with all of your post! I looked at my calendar today and thought... oh, tra-la... a few weeks to go before ___ fill in this blank with any number of things. Contest deadline. Guest blog posts. Regular posts.
    My son - who is a senior this year - brings me papers almost daily with more deadlines. These are priority - no way would I miss having him in his cap/gown/hood for graduation.
    Then we need passports for a cruise. The postal service takes appointments - two weeks away is the next available opening!! I'll be sweating that one out for Christmas.
    And finally it's my turn. As usual, dead last. I think part of time management is prioritizing - having the talent to multi-task means nothing if your own goals don't get accomplished too!
    And my tech'y friend... I learned a lesson when I sync'ed marching band's Google calendar on my Android - everything on Google's public online calendar overrode my personal entries. I can't find appointments I made with the hairdresser etc from a month ago now...
    Just a heads up -
    My refrigerator calendar is the gold standard for scheduling!

    1. phone doesn't like Outlook (it's a Droid), but my iPod does. I've got certain things in my phone's calendar, but only one or two recurring things, like chiropractic appointments. EVERYthing else goes into Outlook, and subsequently, my iPod, which I have on my all the time. Both kids are in school now, so having to remember things like parent-teacher conferences, field trips, etc. is important. Our refrigerator has a whiteboard, too, which gets kids' stuff posted on it. :D

  3. Yep, I am such a live-in-the-moment person. And like you, my husband keeps me grounded, and I push him to take chances occasionally. It's symbiotic and keeps us both less than neurotic. Haha! Great post, Noelle.

  4. I loved this post!
    It's so easy to lose yourself in what's coming, you forget about what's here. I find my kids are the biggest antidote to this. Seriously. They can't even remember to bring their dishes to the sink so I can put them away so I can run the dishwasher so there'll be dishes for tomorrow so... Okay, you get my drift.
    So yeah, kidbrain.
    We all need more of it.
    Starting as soon as the dishes are done...