Waiting for things in the future or longing for things that have happened in the past can cause us to wish away the present.
One of my political studies professors reminded me of this earlier this term.
We should take full advantage of the ability to pass our university days thinking and educating ourselves, she said, since real life presents fewer opportunities for this same kind of freedom.
By wishing away the present in favour of the past or the future, we rid ourselves of opportunities to create new memories that may turn out to be just as significant as those we’ve already lived.
Have you ever met someone that you really related to, but the short time you spent together left only a handful of memories you kept replaying in your mind?
Have you ever wanted something so badly that you’ve felt your every waking hour is an effort to achieve that goal?
Past memories can act as inspiration that propels us to future feats and challenges. But if our present longing for past experiences gets in the way of living and enjoying today — because we want nothing more than to be transported back — it may become problematic.
It’s not unheard of to focus on the completion of tasks because the outcome may seem more appealing than the process of getting there.
In looking to the future, we may assume that “if only we ___”, we’d have made it.
But there will always be something to look back to or ahead in life.
My mom once told me the only way I can get back to some of the best times in my life — or something remotely akin to them, at least — is by focusing on the present, working hard and using the memories as fuel and encouragement to push ahead.
I think she’s right.
Because when we don’t, we risk teeter-tottering our attention back and forth and losing out on what we should care most about: the here and the now.
Natasa is one of the Journal’s Assistant News Editor. She’s a fourth-year political studies major.
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