I brought my racquet back, didn’t even glance at where the yellow fuzzy ball was hitting the strings. My eyes were focused on the other side of the net, in the far corner, where I wanted to hit it down the line.
Of course, I didn’t. The ball landed in the net. I lost the point. All because I was focused on the outcome instead of the journey.
I played tennis this morning, and I realized as I prepared to hit the ball, I was entirely focused on where I wanted it to land – not on hitting it.
That’s called looking ahead instead of being present. I do it all the time. Many of us do. And it usually leads to a terrible shot, a definite miss.
Of course it’s a metaphor, for life. You’ve heard the cliche – do the work and the money will come. Journey, not destination. You get there anyway.
It’s the lesson that anxiety and depression are all about future and past, respectively. Peace is present. The ultimate gift.
Why is it so hard to stay here, right now? Why must we peer ahead, around the corner, at who’s walking down the sidewalk in the distance? Why not focus instead on the tiny spider, a true miracle, crawling his way up the driveway to some destination or purpose we cannot fathom.
As a writer, I could conceded that I have spent my life recording the moment – but in doing so, it is very much living in the past. Holding on to yesterday. Recently, I went back to a memoir I had started years ago about work. It contains lovely essays about different chapters of my working life – from waitress positions to early journalist posts in New York and beyond.
It’s so in-the-past. I tried to resurrect it, thinking that if the writing is good, and the messaging, then it doesn’t matter how long ago it actually happened.
But I’m not there anymore. That person with those insights from so many years ago no longer exists. I am here today in this incarnation, with these perspectives and they look nothing like the young, naive version of my earlier self.
It’s the same thing with scrapbooks and photo albums. We hang on to the past for what purpose – do we ever really open them up and peer at the pictures from that amazing trip five years ago? Not really. Not until we’re old and consolidating our belongings to move into an assisted living facility and our children or grandchildren decide what to keep and what to toss.
Except who we are today is inherently dependent upon who we have been. All the experiences before this moment made this moment, led to the now, so how can we discount them and toss them off the edge of the cliff, never to be seen again?
It is indeed a conundrum without answer.
Ann Landers once said, “Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.”