I woke up the other morning to the sounds of my cat frantically crashing around the room, trying to jump up on his usual resting places and failing miserably. With his eyes darting wildly and his back legs suddenly useless, he was obviously seriously ill in some way. My stomach clenched into a ball, I started soothing him and my husband began Googling, while I imagined the house without him and how to tell the kids he was dying. I instantly prepped myself for the worst, just in case it should happen. His history of kidney problems and approaching 15th birthday were fair indicators, but I still jumped immediately into the feelings I’d experience should he not make it. I mourned, shed tears, and weighed burial options.
I live in the future. The minute I receive any information that affects me personally, I imagine what it will mean to me, what I’ll be responsible for, what I might have to do, and what emotions I expect to feel. I start processing the emotions (especially the negative ones) right away, just to get a jump on things and not be a complete mess when something finally does happen. Crazy? Not to any of you who live in the future! We plan for eventualities, weigh today’s choices against tomorrow’s opportunities, worry about next week, and see the line of toppled dominoes stretching away into the future from any given statement. Life is a game of balancing, planning, adjusting, and enjoying the thought of Someday. We’re not so great at stopping to smell the flowers or being in the moment for more than a couple of hours at a time.
My husband, on the other hand, lives in the present, comfortably and almost completely. It confounds me at times that he doesn’t worry, plan, assume, or prepare like I do. At all! He enjoys what comes his way, deals with things on a day-to-day basis, and doesn’t fret about what may possibly happen tomorrow or next week. He doesn’t ignore the future, and has visions of where he’d like to be, but it plays a very minor role in his daily thoughts. He’s fully ‘present’ in any given situation, while a piece of my brain is always away somewhere: constantly assessing, checking implications, balancing expectations, and planning the next step. Thankfully we’ve learned to balance each other out pretty well, as we’re rather extreme cases!
While maybe not as common, some people tend to live in the past. It’s more common in the elderly, or during periods of real difficulty, when The Good Old Days seem to bloom with infinite appeal. Lost skills, looks, jobs, and relationships are focused on, mourned, and remembered. Today and tomorrow pale in comparison to the memories, and all the time is spent looking backwards. While remembering is an important part of grieving, it’s a phase that can be detrimental if it lasts too long.
So, where do you live? Do you spend most of your time in the past, present, or future? It goes without saying that some sort of balance would be good, and each mode has it’s strengths and drawbacks. I’ve learned a lot from my husband over the past 9 years, and he’s taken a few cues from me also. I definitely wish I worried less and enjoyed the present more, and it’s something I have been working on. Do a self-check and see where you’re at, and if you’re at all extreme, make sure you have at least one friend that’s your polar opposite! Don’t lose sight of your purpose, fully enjoy the present, and accept and learn from the past.
PS … The cat recovered to 90% within 24 hours, and is still with us. I’m enjoying him all I can :).