As we drive through the darkness – of winter, health, economy and political division – our tendency is to flip on the high beams and illuminate the whole road ahead. While we can now sense the destination, our well-lit focus on all the twists and turns of the journey can be overwhelming: so many sharp turns, dangerous curves and oncoming lights in the distance.
These days, the advice I find myself offering – and trying to live up to – is just the opposite. Turn off the high beams. Keeping our emotional headlights at a normal level turns our attention to the road immediately in front of us… the next conversation, the next hour, the afternoon ahead. Illuminating the journey with low beams turns down the often-overwhelming scope of the medium - and long-term future. Yes, the months ahead will still be hard and sad and trying. But they will also be filled with good work, fully-present conversations, creativity and growth. Those months will be made up of weeks, weeks full of days, days comprised of hours and minutes. Looking at the road immediately ahead allows us to stay in those moments – to fully appreciate and live them, to turn them to our benefit and to the good of those around us.
To appreciate this argument, consider its opposite. Think of spending your days overwhelmed by the magnitude of what might be, seized by the paralysis of not knowing. Imagine being consumed with speculative conversation after speculative conversation about vaccine rollouts, restaurant openings, the viability of sporting events or when we’ll get back to normal. Consider spending these months guessing and worrying about tomorrow instead of living today.
If you think this is a fancy, metaphorical way of encouraging us all to live in the present, you’re right. I can’t think of a situation in my own life where remaining in the moment and living in the present has ever been bad advice.
The person you’re speaking to right now… the work in front of you… today… the next hour. These are the only reality we can truly impact. Look past them and you’ll lose the only resource that can never be replaced:
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