I started blogging in 2007. Fourteen years ago, I opened my browser and began sharing pieces of myself. In those days, I wrote about whatever drifted into my head. I didn’t check my grammar or read my words out loud. I wrote as fast as I could. I paid no attention to purpose, technique, my reader (or grammar).
Today feels like one of those days when I want to treat my blog like my journal. 2021 is coming to an end, and automatically I want to reflect on the rollercoaster year.
But I am not going to. I’m not going to replay the past.
Buddhists perceive everything in life as an illusion — which means that nothing has a tangible presence. What we see as concrete and permanent is only present for the time being. (That statement, right there! I’ll write it again for you.) What we see as concrete and permanent is only present for the time being. Eventually, it will cease to exist within months, years, or decades.
The traditional teaching is that attachment (in whatever form) is the root cause of suffering. And suffering, if you’re wondering, is semantically related to worry.
Suppose you knew that worrying thoughts caused you to suffer. And you knew reflecting on those thoughts couldn’t change anything that happened in the past, nor could they direct the future. Would you continue to think about those thoughts?
I won’t speak for all of humanity, just myself. At times, I absolutely want to change the past, and I definitely want to control the future. But another one of Buddha’s teachings is that the secret of health for both mind and body is not to grieve the past, agonize about the future, or anticipate troubles. The secret is to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly. The law of presence teaches that what we do today is important because we are trading a day of our life for it.
And that’s the reason I am not spending my energy reflecting on 2021. Instead, I am giving my power to new intentions that I will take into the new year.
If you’ve never tried stream of consciousness writing, I say give it a go. I highly recommend cozying up to your own heart in this fashion. Here’s what I have (after writing without pause or hesitation):
Goals for 2022:
Let people evolve
Listen without reacting
Do not expect perfection
Only commit to what is doable
No performances or projections
Communicate calmly and honestly
Ample space to be my own person
Share joy and peace
The point of this TED Talk? Don’t let life go by while worrying about the past or the future. Focus on and enjoy the present. One of my all-time favorite quotes by Margaret Bonnano is this: “It’s only possible to live happily ever after on a moment-to-moment basis.”
P.S. If I may make a suggestion – don’t try to live every day like it’s your last. Instead, try to live every day like it’s your first. There’s a big difference!