I was walking with Lesley this morning. Something we try to do three or four times a week. I divide the walk into three parts. One is catching up and conversation. Another is moving meditation. The third part is devoted to contemplation. A deep dive into the countless mysteries of modern life.
There is no pattern. The order is random and pretty much unpredictable. The only thing I’ve noticed is that for at least a portion of every walk I find myself deeply immersed in at least one of those three states.
The moving meditation part of the walk is dedicated to movement, breathing, and being in the moment. The focus is awareness, gratitude, and the many blessings that too often escape us.
Catching up and conversation are focused on just that. What happened yesterday, this morning, or whatever has captured your imagination for that moment in time.
The contemplation portion of the walk can be the most interesting… Time spent on the staccato barrage of seemingly unconnected considerations that fills your conscious awareness.
This morning, it was the difference between now and later. Specifically, the amount of interest, effort, and preparation we are willing to dedicate to either the present or the future. I don’t know about you, but I know people who are absolutely committed to the future. They delay, defer, or sacrifice enjoyment in the present for the hope of a more comfortable and secure whatever comes next. A future that may or may not materialize. One they may never get to enjoy.
I know just as many people who ignore the importance of preparing for that future to satisfy their every wish or want in the present.
It was a short exploration of now or later — immediate satisfaction or delayed gratification — that consumed me as we headed home. That’s when it occurred to me that thinking about any of this in terms of either/or wasn’t going to be very productive. In this instance, as in so many others, our answer doesn’t have to be this or that. Black or white.
It can’t! Life isn’t that simple…
I stretch and exercise every morning. Walk (two-and-a-half to three miles) three or four times a week. And ride my Peloton just about every other day. The argument could be made that I invest that much time and energy to secure a better, healthier future. Or you could say that my effort to stay fit is an investment in a better, more healthful present. Either way, you would be right. The act of staying fit — present, or future — is not mutually exclusive.
How often are we guilty of seeing the world around us as a sea of binary silos. An ocean of ones or zeros. This or that. Now… Or, later?
We allow ourselves to become trapped in a false narrative of unnecessary choices. There is no reason to embrace one consideration at the expense of another. No utility in choosing just one. Not while we can satisfy our desires for a more fulfilling present while still preparing for a better, more secure future.
Is there anything you are doing…? Or not doing… That has materialized out of a false narrative of either/or. Now or later. Because it doesn’t have to be one or the other.
With a little imagination and a bit of creativity, it can be both.
So, why isn’t it?