Where I live, here-and-now-ism is still in vogue: Appreciate the moment. Don’t waste time in the past or the future. Just be with what is. When brushing your teeth, just brush your teeth.
I have doubts about here-and-now-ism. I value my visits to the past and future. I can remember many times when thinking about the past helped me discover useful patterns and learn important lessons. I foresee times when these lessons will serve me well. Being strictly in the here and now would be like having advanced Alzheimers. You wouldn’t recognize friends. You’d have no story line. It would be just one damned dissociated thing after another. I told this to a local here-and-now-ist.
“No, you don’t understand,” he said. “Of course you visit the past and future. The point is to be present with whatever you’re doing, including thinking about the past and future. When brushing your teeth and reminiscing, just brush your teeth and reminisce. Appreciate whatever you’re experiencing.”
I had doubts about this too. “What does being present to being in the past or the future even mean?” I asked.
“It means don’t be judgmental about it,” he said. “The idea is to appreciate everything.”
“That doesn’t work for me.” I said, “I benefit from my capacity to judge where I put my attention. Not appreciating some of my attention allocations can help me improve then.”
“Then be with that.”
“Now you’re talking!” I said.
See, that’s my philosophy. I appreciate that sometimes I don’t appreciate my attention allocation. I’m happy to have mixed feelings about where I focus, because that’s how I refine my focus. When I’m brushing my teeth, reminiscing and thinking I should be focusing on something else, I just do that. When I’m in the here and now, hanging out but thinking I should plan tomorrow’s presentation, I appreciate my concern and just be with it until I get off my duff and go think about the future. I’m a here-and-now-ist twice removed.
This thanksgiving, I’m appreciative of many things, including that I’m not always appreciative.