I am not a fan of motivational quotes. You know the ones. You see them on Instagram and Pinterest all the time. They say things like ‘shoot for the moon, even if you miss you’ll land among the stars’. Which in itself is a ridiculous saying because stars are farther from the earth than the moon is. In fact they even farther from the earth than the sun is. So theoretically if you missed the moon, you are more likely to end up on the sun than amongst the stars, and I’m not sure that would be very pleasant considering how hot it is.
There is another motivational quote I’m sure you're familiar with. There are numerous versions floating about the internet. Here is Buddha’s version:
'Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate on the present moment’.
I understand the concept of this quote but I don’t totally agree with it. I believe the past and future are important, and are what allow us to be fully intentional in the present moment.
I do agree we shouldn’t dwell on the past. There are decisions and actions I made in my past that I regret, but I don’t dwell on them. I do think about them though, because it's these decisions (or rather the lessons learnt from them) that have shaped who I am today. I know, very cliche, but stick with me.
My past has taught me numerous lessons. Some of them I’m still learning. But it’s these lessons that allow me to live more intentionally in the present moment today. For example the lesson I learnt from burning myself out a couple of years ago is the reason I choose to live simply and slowly today. Remembering how I felt when life was frantic and stressful has stopped me making the same mistake again, by ensuring I now make good decisions in the present.
As with remembering the past I believe it is important to dream of the future. For how can you make intentional decisions in the present moment if you don’t know what you want your future to be? Over the past month it has been the future that has steered my fiancé and I to make a decision about how we choose to live today.
A couple of months ago my fiancé was offered a good job with better money working in Western Australia, which is two plane rides, seven hours and a different time zone away. The job would mean him being away for four weeks at a time and then home for one. He worked away for the first three years of our relationship, so it’s not unfamiliar to us, but one of the reasons we moved to Tasmania was to spend more time together on a daily basis. If we decided he should take the job it would mean choosing quality time over quantity time again, and we both had to be ok with that. While it wasn’t easy we decided he should take the job. It was a decision we made based on the future, and not the present moment.
If you have been following along here for a while you will know that our first two years after moving to Tasmania weren’t easy. We had spent thousands of dollars and all our savings moving down here. We then rented three different properties within 18 months before finally selling our house in Queensland and buying the home we are now in.
The move to Tasmania also meant a significant drop in our income, so it has been a hard and difficult road to feeling financially stable again. And while we don’t struggle, there are still many weeks when we feel like we are living pay cheque to pay cheque and not moving ahead in our savings goals. We are also at a point where the things we need to do around the property are going to cost significant amounts of money (think $10,000 just to replace the front and back fencing!), and we are at an age where we seriously need to consider how we are going to retire comfortably.
While talking about money might sound superficial to some, for us it is important. Our future is important to us. No money can’t buy happiness, but it sure helps. And yes we could get hit by a bus tomorrow, but we could also live for another 50 years. Which for us means that it’s the actions we take today that will allow us to live fully in the present moment, both now and when we're 95.
So while I am all for living in the present moment, I believe it is our past lessons and our dreams for the future that are the driving force behind how we do so. For without both the past and the future how can we live intentionally today?