Sometimes I focus on what is right in front of me. Most of the time I have my sights elsewhere. Sometimes anywhere but right in front of me. I look far in to the future at the goal. I keep it focused. That is what I was ”trained” to do. (Surgeons use the word ”trained” when we speak about our education. If helps us remember working like dogs during our residencies. We use the word with pride. Seriously.)
The delayed gratification of my education was extreme. I was in school and being trained (yippee!) for 17 (seventeen)(1-7) years after high school. ”Hey son, hold your breath, stand on your head. Now stand on his head. You got it. Wait for it…wait for it…” etc. Now I am a surgeon. It is a privilege. I mean that. I arrived, but not without a price. What did I miss along the way? Or give up? I lost one marriage to a good person, I lost many friends for lack of time. etc. I think everyone could tell a story of loss or delayed gratification. Another deeply ingrained lesson on delayed gratification I grew up with was heaven.
Heaven is not here, nor is hell, I learned. Here is good..or bad, as the case may be, but it is neither as good nor as bad as it could be, will be. Just wait. This created lots of anxiety in me. I mean, the real deal, existential angst (second time I have used that term in 24 hours–sorry Claire, if you are reading this). I still have it sometimes, but I am now asking questions about the mysterious and underrated Present. I like the name even: sounds like a gift.
The good part about the present is that it is always with us and it is everything I know about anything. If I am not in the present and I am stuck then things change, and not for the good. Stuck in the past is shame. Stuck in the future is fear. I will repeat that. The past is shame. The future is fear. When I get stuck on either end of the pendulum of time, I miss the flow of it. Even though I am sure that the present is where I really am, I don’t think it is static. The present moves just great, like a river. When I live in the present, the past is experienced as memory and the future is dreams. I like those better than the sticky shameful past and the paralyzed fearful future.
Bend, OR 2006, Nikon D100