Along the spiritual path, we’re taught over and over that too much future or past thinking causes suffering. The aim is to be present. Present with our feelings, our body, our reality. Working skillfully with what is, in this very moment.
I was reminded last week of how important it is to also have things to look forward to. This is an aspect of healing that gets overlooked or demonized as "future-thinking" too often.
When we have something to look forward to, it makes the difficult things that exist in the meantime so much more bearable. And it makes our lives feel purposeful. It’s not that we’re racing out of the present moment toward something “better” that’s waiting around the corner. We can still root ourselves in the present and be fully here with what’s unfolding in this moment. But when we have things to look forward to, we live in hope and anticipation. Even if those energies are just notions or ideas, they create a powerful inner atmosphere that can nourish our spirits.
Things to look forward to is a category that got wiped out during the pandemic. I wrote a post about this a while back. It was basically an ode to my shoe collection, which was parked in a dark corner of my closet with nowhere to go, like a giant metaphor staring back at me every morning.
When the things we love feel meaningless, when our creativity can’t find an outlet, when we hunger for a witness and feel fundamentally unseen, our spirits suffer. Overtime, if unaddressed, this kind of spiritual neglect become depression.
Our love longs to be made useful.
We can be in the present moment and we can develop the muscle of accepting things exactly as they are, without straining or struggling to change them. But a part of us still leans industrious. A part of us will never be completely satisfied. This is the nature of being a human with ambition and life force and the never ending desire to improve and change.
In my own experience, when I’ve tried to turn the dial down on that fire, I’ve started deep trouble with myself. When I can honor those needs and work with them instead of against them, I can make magic happen. This is where the best, juiciest kind of manifestations come from. When we aren’t in secret conflict with our longings but able to speak them clearly, give voice to their realness, then we can get to work filling our own deficits - a process which often involves a surrendered collaboration with the Divine.
So if the present tense has felt tough lately - or even unbearable for some of us - don’t forget the importance of giving your spirit something to look forward to.
You don’t need to wait on anyone else’s invitation. Extend one from yourself, to yourself.
Create a date, a reason, an occasion to pull your favorite, totally impractical shoes from the back recesses of the closet and head out into the world. Admire yourself in the shop window reflections. Order something you love to eat and sit at the bar. Eavesdrop on stranger’s conversations. Linger by the flower section at the grocery store.
Consider buying a bouquet for yourself and placing it by your bed. Consider lighting a candle and making a ceremony out of nothing especially special. It’s special enough to be here, slogging it out, one day at a time. Bearing witness to all that is falling apart and all that is being reborn.
It is no easy assignment to be human. It’s a lot most of the time. Appreciate and celebrate yourself today and keep putting things on your calendar that make you smile and remind you how much you have to live for.
Till next time friends,