“It is a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link in the chain of destiny can be handled at a time.”
Well, we know the theory. Of course, it’s said, don’t worry about tomorrow, each day’s its own worries (Matthew 6:34)—but I often wonder how practically we ‘install’ such truth into our daily lives.
This is where the worn cliché either transforms us or ever eludes us—just why do some get it right, not worrying for their futures any more than living for the moment?
This is as compelling as it can be tormenting.
There is no delicate way of saying it and, of course, there’s no way of over-complicating such noble-an-art as this.
We can only ever practice life, with power armed at the ready, one gentle but sure step at a time.
The future will always be there—in our peripheral vision; it need not become, ever, the prime focus.
Remembering Back as We Forget the Future
John Wesley said famously,
“Though I am always in haste, I am never in a hurry, because I never undertake more work than I can go through with calmness of spirit.”
There is a tangible closeness of concepts here.
Railway wagons being shunted along a long rake are notoriously quiet. Unless we have our ear to the tracks we’ll often not know. Many people have been unsuspectingly killed as a result.
Yet, we can imagine here an approach to life that is productively calm and quiet—serenely quiet. It harries not, simply because the fuss is not worth it.
This approach is about cramming more into the present second by relinquishing any encroaching notion of the near past or soon-to-be-coming future.
Wesley is telling us that he attained and maintained “calmness of spirit,” even though he managed to achieve much more than we can do justice to by presenting it here.
We redouble our living moments when we get past our futures, only seeing them in the fleetingly reflective hindsight, which all of us should engage in. This way we’re actively forgetting the future and only see it from the aspect of the meaningful past.
Getting back to our railway example, shunted trains are difficult to stop—once we have the rolling stock moving, the momentum carries it slowly forward. We’re to be the same. Our fervency of focus is presently on the acute hour—and incrementally each ten-minute slot, and then each minute, to the second.
It’s the only rational way to treat time and life.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.