Sunday, September 07, 2008

September 7, 2008 - Living in the Future

Today, I run across a column by radio psychologist Dan Gottlieb that has a lot to say to anyone with a chronic illness – or, well, to just anyone. He’s writing about fear – about how so many of our anxieties and frustrations in life can be traced back to an underlying fear of death.

Reflecting on the “battle” language so many of us use when speaking of cancer, he observes: “Most of us battle things like this not because we are pursuing a vision of victory, but because we are terrified of what will happen if we don't fight. And what is our ultimate fear? Death.

All things living one day stop living. But we may be the only species that knows we will die. How we deal with that piece of information day to day can determine the quality of our lives.”

A little later, Dr. Gottlieb goes on to share this bit of practical wisdom:

“All fear is about the future. And when confronted with the fragility of life, it’s hard not to think about the future. When we do, however, we are at risk for living in the future. That is the real tragedy, because living in the future takes us away from the life we have today.”

“Living in the future” – is that really such a bad thing? When it comes to technology, for example, there are rewards aplenty for those who are forever scanning the horizon, scouting out the next new thing. The “early adopter” gets the iPhone, if not the worm. In the world of finance, stock analysts who can pull off the trick of living in the future – however briefly or imperfectly – rake in millions.

Yet, these are specialized cases. When it comes to everyday life, living in the future is rarely a good thing. Those of us who do so miss out on the present. And the present – as messy and chaotic as it can sometimes be – is where we live our lives.

Gottlieb continues, “Readers who are hoping for a list of practical ‘tips’ of the type we so often see in the news media may be disappointed. I can only offer one big one: Don’t spend so much of your energy pursuing the life you want or avoiding the life you fear. Have the faith to live the life you have - and live it fully, with great love and gratitude.”


Now, here's a little something from the recent "Stand Up 2 Cancer" TV special. Just enjoy it - in the present:

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