LIVING IN THE PRESENT
[continued from yesterday]
...Again, for the most part, looking into the past we repeat the mistake of the magnified room.
"When I was a child," says St. Paul, "I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But when I became a man, I put away the things of a child."
So we, when we were children, may indeed have done evil as children; but let us remember it was "as children," and not as mature men and women. And so of every step after; we are always older than we were, always more mature than we were, and the resolve now, if only we will make it, is the act of a more matured creature than the evil we d.id yesterday. No matter who we are, if we will, it is always in our power to restore the balance.
In the same way dreaming of the future, of what might be and what may be, has at least three paralysing effects. It requires no great imagination to picture to ourselves some state or condition better than that which is now ours.
If only this obstacle were removed, if that arrangement were made, if we ourselves were placed in such or such surroundings, how happy we should be! How much good we should be able to do! And we compare our lot with this mirage of our own making; we lose sight of the opportunities that are actually around us; we forget how much worse is the lot of many others; we ignore how little we deserve even of that which is ours; we are depressed at what we have not, neglecting that which we have; our strength is enfeebled, our activity grows slack; we have chosen to live in dreamland, and we reap a dreamer's harvest.
Or there is the other side, the dwelling on imaginary fears. If we are inclined to magnify the pleasures that are past, no less do we magnify the troubles that may be before us. It is a common saying that pain in prospect is greater pain than pain which actually is upon us; or to put it in another way, it is not so much pain, as the prospect of its long continuance that will break a man down.
So it is in most things else. If only this will not happen, we shall be happy and content! We have no reason to suppose that it will; but we must worry ourselves with this shadow. If we lose this friend we lose everything; if we lose this situation we are doomed; if this thing goes wrong the rest is hopeless; with these and a thousand other "ifs" we shatter our moral nerve, we take the heart out of our life's work, and render ourselves very puny things indeed....
From The School of Love and Other Essays
by The Most Reverend Alban Goodier, S.J.
Burns, Oates, & Washburn, Ltd. 1918