The young have aspirations that never come to pass, the old have reminiscences of what never happened.

The young have aspirations that never come to pass, the old have reminiscences of what never happened. – Saki aka H.H.Munro

The touch of a butterfly is light and fleeting. If you are stuck in the past or the future, you might not even notice that it is present.

The touch of a butterfly is light and fleeting. If you are stuck in the past or the future, you might not even notice that it is present. And that would be quite a loss, wouldn’t it?

What does that mean?
While this may have been a comment about human foibles of memory and imagination, it is a very precise description of those who do not live in the present.

The young, in the quote, are busy looking to the future. The old are busy mis-remembering the past. But what isn’t mentioned? The present, or anyone being involved in it.

If this is how we live, focused on past events (regardless of accuracy) or focused on the future events which may never come, we miss out on what really matters.

Whether it is the sensation of breeze, the warmth of the sun on our skin, or the scent of our favorite food, we can easily miss it all if we are living anywhere besides the present.

Why is spending our time in the present important?  
If your “war stories” keep changing, becoming more dramatic, you might need to take a step away from the past, and spend more time in the present. If you spend more time daydreaming than living your life, you might need to take a step away from the future, and spend more time in the present.

I’m not saying it’s easy. The present can be pretty scary, or worse yet, dull. It can be easy to slip away from “all this” and relive our favorite moments, embellished as they might be, or into a future we hope one day to experience. Been there, done that. Twice. And that’s just today. 8)

Yet we need to try to return to the present every time we notice we have wandered into the past or the present. To me, wandering is different from looking to the past to learn from our actions, or thinking of the future as we develop a plan. Those are legitimate excursions into the past and future.

But the present is where all our sensory data is, and it is where we live our lives. A memory of a butterfly is nice, but actually being present and enjoying it while it is there with you, that is so much better. Life, lived fully in the present, is a true pleasure, even if it isn’t as nice as you might prefer.

Where can I apply this in my life?
We all have bad days. Sometimes we have stretches of bad days that feel like they may never end. Yet even in the worst of times, there are little things which can be of some relief. A quiet moment in a hectic day. A ray of sunshine on a cloudy day. A breath of fresh air when everything around you smells bad.

Whether it is literal, or figurative, these situations happen to us all the time. And, eventually, they pass. In the mean time, what are you doing? I hope you can spend some time in the present. If you’re somewhere else, will you notice the quiet moment, ray of sun, or breath of fresh air? Probably not.

Being present simply means being present. Being there, here, in this moment and at the location of your body. What are the sensations around you? What do you hear? What do you smell? What do you see? What do your skin feel? What do you taste? Hmmm, I think I need to brush my teeth.

But seriously, think about something you do, especially those things which are so boring that your mind goes somewhere else while you do them. Vacuuming or washing dishes are two of my favorites. What about you? What are you doing when your mind wanders?

For vacuuming, notice when and where the vacuum picks up things which make noise. Notice the patterns you make as you go back and forth. Feel the weight of the device as you push it forward and pull it back. Hear the motor as it goes faster and slower. Savor the odd scents it kicks up as it sucks up spilled solids from the floor.

For dish washing, feel the stuff you’re washing away. Feel the rag or sponge in your hand. Feel the friction or slickness of the items you are cleaning. Feel the curvature as you check to see if you’re done. Notice the temperature and color of the water, as well as the texture of the bubbles. Note the scents of the soap and the things you are cleaning.

Now take a moment and consider what you can do during one of your chores to be more observant, and more present, while doing them. Start by involving the senses, and then focus on all the sensations involved. The point isn’t to enjoy it, but to fully experience what you are doing.

With that in mind, consider how you might be more present in the rest of your life. What can you do next time you are outside? The next time you are typing? The next time you are dressing? Brushing your teeth? Eating?

There are plenty of opportunities to think about the future. There are plenty of times to relive the past. But the present is always here. The question it asks is “Where are you?”

Happy Birthday, Saki (aka H.H.Munro), born 18 Dec 1870.

From: Twitter, @OUPAcademic
confirmed at : http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/87469-the-young-have-aspirations-that-never-come-to-pass-the from Reginald
Photo by Vale

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2 Responses to The young have aspirations that never come to pass, the old have reminiscences of what never happened.

  1. followyourshadow 19 December 2013 at 12:36 am #

    “The point isn’t to enjoy it, but to fully experience what you are doing” … Well said, something to think about.

    • philosiblog 19 December 2013 at 6:45 am #

      Thanks for stopping by and for leaving a comment. Glad the post gave you something to engage your brain. Hope you stop by again.

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