"it is not uncommon for people to spend their whole lives waiting to start living.” --Eckhart Tolle
This weekend, a dear friend and client died in a fatal accident.
Which of course makes for much sadness.
Like so many folks, my friend tried so hard to do things right and protect herself from the future. She saved the retirement money, ate the kale, wore the helmet.
And yet, along came “Accident” anyway.
What makes it an “accident” vs. an “on purpose?”
Well, “accident” means it was unplanned-for. Which of course it was. No one could have planned for this.
Despite all those decades of midnight mental self-protection strategy sessions about how to be safe in the future.
So much for plans.
For most of us, out of the blue will come the who-could-have-known truck, the lightning, the going to sleep and not waking up. Very few get to tell death when, where and how to show up.
And when we begin to see that truly we have zero control despite all those great plans and intentions...
We start to understand why thought is terrified of the future. We start to understand why future-planning so often comes with fear, worry, and waking in the night just for anxious sweating.
Turns out, despite mind’s constant focus on self protection, existence has its own ideas about what’s supposed to happen next.
It is simply not going to be controlled by mind’s plans.
I mean, talk about powerless.
And hoo boy, thought simply hates that.
Thought hates that it is not the boss of the future. It hates that it can plan and scheme to protect and in the end existence says, “No. Not that. This.” anyway.
Nothing brings home our helpless know-nothingness better than the so-called future.
And dammit that's scary stuff.
Even though "the future" is only a concept, a bunch of mental images about things that haven’t happened and usually never do happen.
Which mind somehow keeps failing to notice or accept.
Still, if we think about how many times we have been afraid of potential looming disaster vs. how many times said disaster actually happened, well…
We might begin to see that thought is an exceptionally incompetent psychic.
That sucker is guessing. It truly has no idea what is actually going to happen. So it’s always scurrying to protect against all possible contingencies.
Y’know, for just in case.
While meanwhile, existence is like, “Ok, cue the surprise flat tire.”
As it happens, we’ve actually never been anything other than helpless anyway. Seen or not, admitted or not, understood or not...
We are experts in not knowing.
So there’s actually nothing unknown or new about being helpless. It is already the case.
And here we are, carrying on carrying on.
Until it’s time to not go on, of course. And we are not the boss of when that is.
So sure, the mind can busy itself trying to control the future. But it does not actually have that power.
Luckily, the future is a sheep in wolf’s clothing anyway.
It looks scary but it’s not real. And neither is the self that is looking to be protected.
They’re both completely made up. As concepts always are.
Nice lambie. Nice lambie.
Meanwhile, oh to be able to go back in time and say once more to my sweet friend, “Those fears of the future- the “potential” poverty, the “could happen” mistakes, the “might happen” suffering… they’re imagination. They’re not real. The future isn’t real. So maybe this right now can be enough?”
I would so wish for her to be able to enjoy this anything-but-poor present, while it's here.
And of course, I can’t bring her back to say any of that.
So I’m saying it to you.
Because I wish this for you too- the noticing of your own part in this sweet present existence, as it is.
Surely that counts at least as much as all those imagined, fictitious maybe-might-could-happens.
Not to mention that when I share this with you, I’m sharing with her too.
And thank you for that.
"You need not strain towards the future- the future will come to you on its own." --Nisargadatta
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In loving memory of Paula S. May there be peace where you are.