Eckhart Tolle talks about living in the present – as the way to deeply experience life. What he is also saying by implication is to let go of the past and to let go of the future. We hear about letting go of the past all of the time. We must forgive and forget. Learn our lessons and move on. If we reflect how our present lives are so deeply affected by the events, feelings and conditioning of the past it is pretty self-evident that these old tapes should be left behind.
But we don’t hear as much about letting go of the future. In fact, we constantly hear how to change, direct and create the future we want by intention, goal setting and the like. What is it like to live without a future? What is it like to live as if there were, might not be, would not be a tomorrow? Would it be like living in a hospice situation? Would we be so riveted by the uncertainty of a tomorrow that there would be no today?
But that isn’t living without a tomorrow. To fear the loss of a tomorrow is to bring even more focus to it; to bring fear into uncertainty. Let us make clear now that we are not talking about calendar time – not making an appointment to see the doctor or go to work or visit a friend. We are talking about tomorrow as psychological time. Some day when I have more money; some day when I have more time; some day when I know more; some day when I am famous, healthier, happier, etc.
But someday never comes, does it? No matter how much we plan for it, we can not plan to be ‘happier’ or ‘healthier’ tomorrow. The only experience we can ever have is today, right now, this moment. If this moment is not happy, how likely is it that a moment three hours from now will be any happier? Can I say with any certainty that if I do this and this today I will be happier tomorrow?
If there is no tomorrow, if there is no ‘better’ day to look forward to, how can we make today, right now, more bearable? Is this all there is? Is this as good as it gets? Is this enough? If it isn’t, what can we do? If there is nothing we can do now to make tomorrow happier, is there anything we can do right now to make right now happier?
Birds don’t think about tomorrow. Cats, dogs, lions or elephants do not ponder the economic crisis and how they will eat tomorrow. Trees and plants do not wonder about global warming or rising coastal waters. All they can do is deal with right now, today. Therefore, they have a greater possibility of happiness than we do with all of our planning, projections and goals.
How do we live today if we let go of the belief that things might get better- or not get better – in the future? Maybe we will never be healthier, richer, freer of worry, feel more loved than we do right now. Maybe tomorrow we will not be healthier, richer, less worries or more loved. Can we accept that not knowing? Can we release the desire to control and direct the path we are on? Do we have a choice?