There really is no better entertainment than reality.
I have had a few “light bulb” moments in the past weeks that have enabled me to understand why living in the moment is a good idea. I think the biggest light bulb moment was to realise that the future doesn’t exist; at least, it will never exist as we imagine it to be in our mind so there is no point living there in your thoughts.
Since starting my introspection/contemplation journey, I have had many little experiences that made me understand this about The Future: I have got excited about future events such as gigs only to be disappointed by them, situations I might have worried about turning out just fine, and having great experiences from something I hadn’t expected to happen.
Enough of such experiences to realise thinking about the future is futile. Not saying you shouldn’t “plan” for it, but having any expectations about it is useless.
And the best way not to “live” in the future, or the past for that matter, is to be present in the moment. Not an easy task mind as your mind will try and take you wandering every opportunity it gets. But feasible.
The easiest way I have found to train myself to be present is by taking a walk. Which I do daily, either walking my friend’s dog or walking into town, mobile phone not present or out of easy reach and head up, and more and more without my mp3 player in my ears.
Soon after I start walking, my thoughts begin to dissipate and I notice the world around me more, the people I come across, whether I interact with them or not, the nature around me, the sky above my head, the sound of birds, wind, Life.
I become an observer and through observation, an experiencer of the reality I am witnessing.
As I become present, I am able to detach myself from whatever thoughts might have been preoccupying my mind and “realisations” become possible, enabling me to better “see” situations and thus have clearer understanding of them, less fogged by emotions. I think this is what they call mindfulness.
I also realised recently that being on my own makes it easier for me to be present. No-one to interfere or distract me from my direct experience. Not drinking helps too if you want to be a sharper observer.
Last night, I took a walk to a Comedy show and had the most entertaining evening. And it had nothing to do with the comedians: all the entertainment came from my interaction with some individuals and my observation of others. Priceless.
More and more recently I have felt lucky to be on my own as it renders me free to fully experience life on my very own terms.
They say that to thrive in life, you need a good social network. I disagree. “Others” create interferences in your self-enquiry.
By having people in your life, you are never truly free.
This idea that you need people in your life is also very dangerous: it puts pressure on people to think they are lacking if they don’t have a good bunch of friends or support network, some may even think that they are a failure, and thus making aloneness the biggest cause of depression.
I very recently came to the realisation that a problem shared isn’t a problem halved. It actually makes it a problem. The more you involve people in your “problems”, the more the problem exists.
I realised this following a work situation recently. We all heard the disturbing news that we are all on consultation due to a big restructure to save costs. Meaning all of our jobs will either change or disappear.
I got home that evening and briefly thought how a side effect of aloneness was that I had no-one to talk to about this whereas my colleagues would be going home to their family or partners and no doubt spend the night going over it with who ever is in their life.
As per my daily schedule, I took my friend’s dog, Theo, for my evening walk. By the time the walk ended, I had sorted it all out in my head and was back in the moment again. How many of my colleagues would have spent the evening, and the next one, and the next one, and the whole weekend and possibly their entire time from now on, talking about an imaginary future in their social environment I wondered. I felt so grateful my aloneness allowed me to quickly process the event and get back to the present, where I have so much fun :-).
Makes me wonder why people – and I used to be one of those – are so scared of aloneness when actually one of its major side effects is personal freedom, which apparently is the Holy Grail of existence…