Image courtest of: Julien Cavonoli
Living in the Present
Some years back I read an interesting thesis on ‘Living in the Present’, or, perhaps the title was ‘Living in the Moment’. Unfortunately, I ran across my old blog post response to the thesis but not the article itself. Apparently, I was having a bad day those years ago, and I reacted to the thesis, thinking it left out some important considerations. It is likely not too courteous or fair of me to submit my response here to that intellectual document, and, in doing so, allows that my reactions could be a bit ‘over the top’, giving no space for rebuttal, building a case that does not fully understand the total significance of the thesis.
While I could understand the core issue of ‘Living in the Present’, it was a bit too ‘heady’ for me, maybe pedantic and without ‘wiggle room’, because I, too, believe that people do themselves harm by too much dwelling on their past misgivings.
So, it is with this bit of timidity that I present the following, an assumption that the past, the future, and the present all play into our personal historical records.
|Yes, my memories (that never existed or hold no value?) haunt me and compel me to write my blog posts, my books, my poems, my songs, a round-up of moments in my life that, connected to the genetic engineering, pretty much make me who I am today…at times, euphoric and happy in love; at times, sad and sorrowful; at times, feeling the sharp and unrelenting dark cave of anxiety. How else could I write, project the agony and ecstasy of my characters, narrate a truthful set of words that maybe jump off the page and into the lives of my readers? I could not write of the good and evil had I not lived a life that took me to those places that dictate our emotions, our mistakes, our dreams.
It is one thing to say, ‘let go of the past and the future for they have no relevance in the here and now’. It is quite another thing to suppose that people can do that very thing, to forfeit the thoughts of any past event that came before.
Was Hemingway writing “The Old Man And The Sea” in his present without benefit of ‘lies/memories?’ from his past and ‘lies/thoughts?’ of his future?
What of all the paintings brush-stroked across canvas, all the great works of art, written, sculpted, created, all through some modicum of memory’s glory and pain? Those works of Art live today in our present. Are they lies/memories that we must not possess? It is perhaps the case that brilliant minds of Science, Sports, Business can displace their years with a sweeping brain swipe of the negative parts of their lives, or, they simply were devoted to that one ambition, that only life objective that mattered to them. To them, I give thanks, because perhaps there are enough Romantics and Vagabonds among us to write our poetry and prose of Love and Sorrow.
Even with the hauntings and loves of this Romantic Vagabond, these ‘lies/memories’ are the only composite picture that I carry of me. And, I surely miss the all-encompassing and equating points that must surely go beyond just telling folks not to live in the past and/or future, only in the present.
That is where it becomes much too ‘heady’ for me. How can it be possible to eradicate a person’s being?
It was a philosophical conundrum presented, a pseudo-plaything of the mind: ‘Cogito, ergo sum’; I think. Therefore, I exist’. A tree crashes in the forest – if no one is there to hear and see the tree crashing to earth, did the event occur? Surely, scientists of the Brain cannot see all that there is to see.
Just my pedestrian thoughts…
We are supposed to learn from history so as not to make the same mistakes. It seems we seldom do learn from history. But, then, history must be a lie because it is always written in the present based on written documents and memories of the past…and one must surely wonder how History texts can differ with so many versions by College Professors and Historians with axes to grind.
Did Nero really fiddle while the great city of Rome burned around him?
Did Hitler really slaughter six million people?
Are the holocaust victims remembering lies? Were there no victims at all? Was it all a hoax? Does anyone truly BELIEVE the survivors and family members of those millions of lives taken by the ‘Hitler-Beast’ are altering history’s documented truth? Who can believe this ‘Hitler-Savage’ with only one ‘Present-mind’, one racial and world domination goal?
Did the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941?
Why do we celebrate events from our past? Independence Day? Thanksgiving? Christmas?
Yes, I know, we are asking people not to dwell on the past and on the future, to live in the present. It is at times too painful, too wasteful of our time to dwell on negative thoughts, to have our tears of memories, lost loved ones to old age, to wars, to accidents, to criminal events…too wasteful to dwell on matters of the heart.
I get that. It does us no good to dwell on the bad stuff of our lives. Most of us can recall a negative memory, stay for some moments, and walk away from it. Some of us dwell too long. But, are you not asking too much of people by performing some sort of intellectual lobotomy? There are many episodes in my life that I would exchange for blissful non-memory, but it is not possible. For me, it is not possible. Perhaps it can be done by the very elite minds among us.
That image and over-all statement wraps up lives too simply and narrowly for me, yet I’m sure there is much I am missing in the thesis, so much Science is far beyond me. I enjoyed the writing, and, even with the seeming all-inclusiveness of the statements, it made me think. Perhaps, I put a bit too much authoritarian literacy in its meaning. At least, it gave me this opportunity to espouse some personal perspective on collective experiential fall-out.
Yes, I’m a simple man. I ponder and write daily, as a ‘therapy’ and from a source unknown to me.
In writing this post, I wonder what solid context I might have missed and was meant to grasp by reading ‘Living in the Present’.
BR Chitwood – January 30, 2020
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