Jim lives in the present. He’s the one that notices the bands of color in clouds during the sunrise; he finds the horned toad on a rock and the mound of delicate wildflowers on the backside of the tree. He can sit in a chair and soak in the music and have a conversation with a stranger for an hour and be quite content. Next Saturday is far away and next year is inconceivable. Living in the present is a talent he’s mastered and I utterly lack.
Conversely, I live in my head, planning next month’s weekend, next year’s trip, my next car, the next job, the next decade, and my retirement. I search for future financial opportunities and future dreams of reinvention. Did you know in fifty years they will have the capability to create a new heart for an individual by using DNA and a three-dimensional “printer”? Will my grandchildren live to see age 150? Will my government implant an I.D. chip in my arm for identification and “safety”? Will I have to live in Panama because I will be unable to afford to live in my beloved U.S.A.?
When I’m not thinking about the future, I write, teach, and wonder about the past. I’m researching local history of 1927 to better frame my fictional characters. At school we are studying the U.S. Civil War. Every year I learn something new. For example, did you know the history surrounding the term “Jayhawks”?
It’s a nickname given to 1850s guerrilla fighters in Kansas who attempted by force to ensure that the Kansas Territory would be admitted to the Union as a Free State. Part Blue Jay, part Sparrow Hawk, this pesky mythical bird demands attention. By the time the Civil War ended, “Jayhawkers” had become a patriotic symbol for freedom and eventually the mascot for U of K. Read all about the University of Kansas Jayhawk history
Anyway, I’d rather find meaning about the past or the future through books and films. I rarely read a newspaper or watch the news. I’ll wait until it’s past-tense before I consider it. This is a foolish, terrible practice. I rely on Jim and my friends to keep me abreast of what’s going on in the world. Because after I’ve considered the future and the past, there’s little time left for the present; perhaps because the present is a very scary place to be while I find the past familiar and the future fun to speculate. It’s the present that alarms me, and I reckon that’s why I avoid it.
How about you? Do you find you are a person living in the past, present, or future?