Imagine you're ninety years old, lying on a hospital bed and reflecting back on your life. Now, imagine reflecting on your past ninety years on earth and realizing that you've spent most of it living for the future. Having reached ninety and at a point in life where there is not much more future to plan for, you now have to reevaluate what exactly it is you are living for and why.
So then, based on your circumstances you are not left with many more options than to live for right here and right now. But, why is this idea of embracing the present so foreign to us before we reach our older ages? Let's unpack this thing together.
Think back to high school for a second. This stage in your life may not bring back the most positive feelings, but when you dig down deep you realize more and more why it should. Receiving this education was an opportunity to learn about the building blocks of life and expand your perspective overall.
Unfortunately before we could appreciate all that we were learning, we skipped to frantically working solely for an 'A' on the report card. Somehow, it was more about a letter than being passionate or truly understanding a topic.
It doesn't stop here; the trend continues. Without realizing the true benefits of a high school education, we think to its future purpose: college. This may seem normal because planning for the future is important, but this thinking can also take away from the importance of all the different stages of our lives that should be precious to us all on their own.
That’s the thing about doing something as a means to advance to the next thing—it only permits a fractional amount of attention on where we are currently. And spoiler alert, the "next thing" is soon wiped out by another "next thing." And so the pattern continues.
Before you even take your first step on a college campus you can expect to hear questions about choosing a major that will hopefully lead to a high-paying job. Following this trend, high school is a means to college as college is a means to a high-paying job.
We often forget that college is a deliberate choice of furthering our education and is truly such a unique and wonderful opportunity. I would argue that our priority should be on learning as much as we can about becoming our best possible selves instead of working towards a higher GPA with the hopes of getting an impressive job title. But if we don't change our focus, another one of the greatest opportunities of our lives as humans could be reduced to a bunch of letters.
This does not mean that we should not always strive for good grades. After all, good grades show that we are on top of our studies and gives us an increased incentive to learn. The real problem only comes in when our priority transfers from actually learning something to just a letter grade.
Now it's time for that job that you've been planning for, and after working for a little while, you will probably start envisioning a glorious retirement where you can get to really enjoy life. Do you see the trend now?
Living for the future has a great chance of resulting in spending each stage of life fifty percent for the here and now, and fifty percent looking forward at what might be just a little better, and who wants to live life at a level of fifty percent?
Enjoying every ounce of life's experiences to the fullest degree and appreciating where we are at in our lives right now should not be traded for planning the next thing. So try and establish the precedent of recognizing every bit of who and where you are in this moment. Don't be convinced that your best life is just around the corner and neglect this moment right here.
I am so grateful to be twenty-one years old and have so much in front of me, but sometimes I still need to imagine my ninety year-old self in order to determine if what I am living for is of true benefit to me. I want to live for now so that at the end my life I can admire my collection of memories lived at a one-hundred level, compared to fifty. So the future will come when it comes, but for right now, I am all good to appreciate what I’ve got right here in front of me.