Despite my trying to live in the present, I keep on obsessing about the future, especially when I have to plan for something large or small. It’s a real pain.
Obsessed About the Future
Dear Obsessed About the Future,
Planning for the future without obsessing is a real challenge for all of us. Not surprising given that in our society and our learned experience, changing our lives, making us something we aren’t, getting something we don’t have now ... all those things are of the utmost importance supposedly to our happiness and our standing with our peers. We are very insecure.
As with most aspects of walking the path, it comes down to awareness and making a choice. Awareness is observing ourselves and understanding what is happening to us. It is reflection that requires focus and being present in the moment, free of the intervention of thought. That last part ... being free of the intervention of thought ... is of critical importance. If you think you are present but are thinking, then you aren’t present at all but off somewhere, wherever your thinking mind is taking you. In various posts I have described exercises to help you be in that state.
Once you are in that state, and you become aware that your thinking mind wants to obsess about the future, the choice is yours. You can either go where your thinking-mind leads you, or you can say, “No, I’m not going there; I have compassion for you and I appreciate where you’re coming from, but following you will result in nothing but fear and anxiety, frustration, and suffering. Instead, I am going to listen to my true Buddha nature and be present, knowing that if I live each moment well, the future will take care of itself, all will be well regardless what life throws in my direction.”
Recently I was once again dealing with this very issue. Yes, it never ends as our ego and thinking mind are always there, very active, and very strong and wily. Anyway, I all of a sudden remembered a popular song from my childhood, “Che Sera.” The opening words were, “When I was just a little girl, I asked my mother what will I be, will I be pretty, will I be rich, here’s what she said to me. Che sera sera, whatever will be, will be. The future’s not our’s to see. Che sera sera.”
What a wonderful spiritually advanced song to come out of our modern culture. How strange. Were things really that different 60 years ago?
As the days have passed, I have thought of that song and sung it to myself often during the day. It brings a smile to my face and somehow, probably because it’s a part of the culture I grew up in, it makes it easier for me to choose not to obsess about the future when my thinking mind wants to take me in that direction.