Wednesday, 2 March 2016

An Improvement Over The Present

We often find ourselves thinking about the past, of those beautiful memories that we have stored away or of times before our own that seemed so much better than certain moments of this life that we are living now. Other times, we find ourselves thinking about the future, about what we're going to do tomorrow or in a few days or months or years, of how much better it will be. We think of these times rather than the present, the moment that we are living right now. These days, months, years that will pass by which we will someday wish would return.

One of my favourite poems, "Nostalgia" by Billy Collins, deals with these ideas. He asks us to think of various eras and of all of the wonderful things during those times. He speaks of these eras as though he has lived through them. He goes on like this until he gets closer to the end of the poem and moves onto remembering his own past. He says "or at least let me/ recapture the serenity of last month when we picked/ berries and glided through afternoons in a canoe" and he also states that "Even this morning would be an improvement over the present." At the end of the poem, he describes how he was thinking about the past and how he was even thinking about the future as well. This poem is about how we reminisce about the past and we imagine the future instead of being here and now in the present moment.

I often find myself reminiscing about the past or dwelling on bad experiences from the past. I even think about what it was like during the different eras before I was even born. I also find myself planning for the future and imagining what it might be like. Both things are nice and we should remember the past since we can learn from it as well as plan for the future because planning is important but we must remember that we are living right now so we should enjoy it. Each moment that we live slips away so quickly and before you know it, several days, months, years, or decades have passed and you wonder where the time went. For me, high school and my university undergrad went by so quickly. I still can't believe that I finished high school four years ago. It doesn't feel like it has been that long. I also can't believe that I have my Bachelor of Arts degree. I still remember when I was in my first year of university and I knew a young woman in her third year and I felt so young compared to her. Now I'm done university and I feel so much older than all of those kids who are currently working on their undergrad (the ones who are actually younger than me, of course, I realize that someone older than me could be working on their undergrad right now).

It can be difficult to stay in the present if you're like me and your mind is like a person rushing through a library grabbing book after book off of the shelves. My thoughts often jump from one thing to the next, so much that I need to remind myself to write down good ideas that I come up with before I forget them. My imagination can be pretty crazy too although I am definitely grateful for having a wild imagination. I try to just look around me sometimes, noticing what is happening around me right now. I try to meditate as well, focusing on my breath and not dwelling on thoughts, however, that is proving to be more and more difficult. I guess I just have some improving to do.


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