Escaping The Present
Updated: Jan 3, 2020
Our brains are quite literally always escaping the present and as it turns out, it’s actually for good reason.
Your brain is inherently invested in your survival, so it’s engaged in assessing risk and avoiding potential danger.
It wants to protect you and keep you alive, so certainty and predictability is always preferred.
This is where it starts getting interesting.
Your brain likes to live in the past or the future, because it can measure and label them, giving them a kind of narrative structure.
It develops stories that work as a reference point, allowing you to make greater sense of your environment, invoking that ultimate sense of control it desires.
Bottom line, your brain can grapple with the past and the future, much more effectively than it can grapple with the present.
The present unfolds in real time. It is shapeless and formless – and has no defining measure or structure, all you can do is respond to it, not control it.
In her book, Time and Despondency, Dr. Nicole Roccas, suggests:
“Since defining things through labelling and measuring is the main task of the mind, when it comes to something formless, it simply ignores it. The mind prefers to work in the past or the future; since these dimensions are both actually constructs of the minds own workings and thus the mind can control them. The present moment, however, is completely outside it’s control and therefore completely ignored..”
And herein lies the issue.
Neither the past nor the future actually exists; it’s only in the present that actual life is lived - it unfolds in each moment,
And what you need to realise that both time (and life) will go on in your presence, or indeed in your absence.
So the key then, is to have the presence of mind to remain engaged.
To remain engaged in each moment as it unfolds.
Having the ability to relinquish your minds need for control in order to more effectively deal with reality as it presents itself to you.
The alternative is to escape the present and escaping the present is essentially escaping life itself.
Having that 'presence of mind' serves you by affording you the ability to respond in real time.
To recognise the lay of the land and be more intentional about the choices you make.
Because it’s these choices that ultimately shape your life - and this is your great power.
Everything happens in the here and now.
So be mindful of what you give your attention to, because if you don’t, time won't stop for you and you'll find that life will simply just pass you by.