Outdoor Advent Day 4

There is no point in regretting any part of the past. The past can’t now be altered, the future has yet to be lived, and consciously to experience every moment of the present is the only way to gain at least the illusion of immortality.

Time to Be in Earnest: A Fragment of Autobiography by P. D. James

This is the time of the year when we traditionally reflect on the past and look to the future. Whilst I cannot say I do not do this myself, I do think that there is limited benefit to such exercises, especially when we find ourselves in situations (like a pandemic) where our control of the overall event is minimal. When I find myself berating myself for not reaching certain goals or worrying about things happening in the future that are beyond my control I find this quote, which feels a lot like a sensible explanation of what mindfulness is, deeply helpful.

I have no idea if P.D. James meant it to be read like this but what I find in her words is;

a) that we need to remember the past in order to know where we’ve come from and learn from what happened but not in order to use it as a stick to beat ourselves with, and
b) that looking to the future is also absolutely necessary but that if we focus on what might be and neglect what is, we’ll never actually live it.

Life can only truly be lived in the here and now. Turning your focus on to what you can do this moment is the best gift you can give both your past self (from whose actions you’ve learnt what you do and do not want) and your future self (who will reap the benefits from the time you take now to build towards the life you’d like to live).

I’m not really bothered about finding the illusion of immortality, if I’m honest, but the joy of getting lost in the act of creating something, reaching that place within yourself where you feel entirely linked to the now? That’s something I’m happy to chase down over and over again.


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