LIVING IN THE PRESENT
[continued from yesterday]
...We have the present always with us; yet we are always endeavouring to live in a half-forgotten past or a fancied future. We live in the past, recalling pleasures that are no more, magnifying them out of all proportion, contrasting with them in their magnified state the trifling pleasures of to-day, and by the contrast robbing these pleasures of their meaning.
Or again we look along the past, and count up the mistakes we have made. We tell ourselves of all the opportunities we have lost; our old self scolds our juvenile self for all the foolish things it has done; we weep over all that is past and gone; even when we smile at happy recollections it is with the smile that lingers round the mouth of a corpse.
And the result of each and all is the same. We look at the present with a long and sour face. We say we have spoiled ourselves, or that our chance is over and will not return, or that evidently we are doomed to disappointment; and beneath this self-accumulated burden we just sit down and do nothing.
Or else we live in the future. Weare something at present, but it is nothing in comparison with what we may yet hope to be; we can do something today, but compared with what we might do, or yet may do, or but for this or that interference would do, it is not worth consideration.
We peer into the darkness to discover that which we can never know: We imagine strange things which we know very well may never come to pass. We look down imaginary vistas, build our castles in the air, and fret because we are not permitted to live in them.
Or last of all, as a last perversion, if for the moment all is going well with us, we deliberately spoil the content we might enjoy by dwelling on the time when we shall be no longer happy, or even, if we are extreme, by making ourselves miserable because we are not so....
From The School of Love and Other Essays
by The Most Reverend Alban Goodier, S.J.
Burns, Oates, & Washburn, Ltd. 1918