I was in a situation recently where I faced one of the most seemingly simple, yet most intense inner battles my life so far. I’m sure I have many more to face, but in the moment it felt monumental.
I sat, literally nauseated with the back and forth in my head, with one question to answer:
“Can I accept the things I never knew, and let go of the things I’ll never know?”
I’d begun to let the question tear me apart. We all have them. The “I wish I would have known” moments, or the “I’ll always wonder what it would have been like if…” Well, mine were pushing me toward dramatic things like running away from my perfectly good relationship. Sounds ridiculous now, right? But in the moment–very real. The future suddenly terrified me and the past haunted me.
So, I did what I did best. I talked. To myself. For hours, for days. By the time I finished I had convinced myself that my life was an absolute catastrophe and I was nothing but a lost little girl in a dark and scary world and I had no idea how I’d gotten there. Finally, I had to talk to someone else. Nick came home that night to a very confused and weepy girlfriend. No, it wasn’t easy for him to hear, but he heard me out anyway. Luckily, and he may not even realize it, but while my mind was looking into the past and jumping into the future with all the potential tracks it should or could be on, his mind was in the present. The Now. To him, it was as simple as one very different question.
“What do you need to be happy NOW?”
I am happy now.
Suddenly I was unraveling again. “But what if I could be happier? “What if I’m happy now but I’m not happy later?”
“Everyone has those thoughts.” He said. “It’s about whether or not you can let go of them.”
My boyfriend, the closet philosopher.
It took me days of doing nothing but sitting around the house and thinking (some more) to realize that, yes, I could let go of them. While I was thinking about how I feared I wouldn’t fulfill my dreams or that I let the wrong opportunity pass me by, I was overlooking the fact that my life is pretty damn good. If I was happy now, right this moment, why did anything else matter?
Well, that’s complicated I guess. Of course there’s no disputing that plans for your future keep you going and the past shapes you into who you are in the present. But, at one point the past was the present, and eventually the future will be too. What you’re doing right this second is going to determine if you look upon the past fondly and look forward to the future.
I’d forgotten. I’d absolutely forgotten about the NOW. And I almost let that ruin it for me.
From now on I’m going to take a page out of Eckhart Tolle’s book (whom I don’t always agree with, but greatly respect none the less) where he says:
The eternal present is the space within which your whole life unfolds, the one factor that remains constant. Life is now. There was never a time when your life was not now, nor will there ever be.
As long as the answer to “Am I happy right now?” is yes, then I am on the right track. If it is no, I resolve to fix it now, and not waste any time waiting for things to change. Don’t let that mean that you don’t make an effort to fix the things that aren’t working, but if you’ve made every reasonable effort and you answer to that question is still ‘no,’ it may require the courage to move on.