You should always think about the future, however you should avoid worrying about the future. If the future is always at the forefront of your mind when do you think about the present, do you ever take the time to enjoy an experience, or appreciate the world around you? The answer most likely is no. We spend so much time overanalyzing and methodically plotting all of our decisions that we rarely ever enjoy the present. As a society we receive more joy from knowing that we might have some joy in the future, rather than enjoying our current experiences. For those of you who do not know, my favorite climber is Ueli Steck. The Swiss alpinist known for his daring alpine speed climbs in Europe, and in the Himalayas. I was watching a TV program Explorers that profiled Ueli’s famous speed ascents in the Alps. After climbing The Matterhorn he made a comment about living in the moment. Ueli said that when you are in a dangerous situation and all of your focus is on every action you make in the present, you are living in the moment.
Ueli’s comment perfectly sums up the way that I am trying to live my life. I try to do things that block out the stresses of life, my worries for the future, or problems I might be having socially. If you can block out everything that brings you pain, then you can find peace. To put things in perspective picture what I am about to tell you. You are going on a long run through the woods, the weather is nice, the temperature is mild, and you feel great. However you are running on a steep, rocky trail in the woods. In that moment what are you worried about? You are worried about your feet, where they are, how fast they are moving, and where they are going to be. When you are focusing on your run especially a technical run, you do not have time to think about anything else. You are extremely focused because you know that one slip is likely going to result in a twisted ankle. Now granted there is very little danger in this situation, you are very focused. If you are focused on something and that challenge is constantly shifting then you are living in the moment. Now this is a stressful situation but it is good stress. In moments like this you are happy. Not to mention your happiness is coming from something real, something you just did. Your joy is not coming from something that might happen in the future. Moments like this are the key to life.
As some of you may know last week my Grandfather died, he died peacefully but his passing came very quickly, without a great deal of warning. When he died after a very long night at my Grandmothers I woke up at one in the afternoon. I immediately packed a small running pack and hit a trail near my house. Prior to my run I was a ball of depressing stress, yet the run eased my pain. That long run in the woods on an unfamiliar trail distracted me and forced me to live in the present.
So what I am I getting at? I am trying to say that you should live in the moment, worry about your future, make good life choices but you should never harp on the future. Make a plan, decide how you will complete it, and then go out and enjoy the world. After all if you are unhappy in the present will you be happy in the future?
“When you get to the summit and you push the watch, first you try to breath a little bit and get some oxygen in your lungs. When I saw this time I was like, ‘ah, that’s not possible.’ Yeah… that was a good moment.”
~ Ueli Steck