I had a very interesting conversation with my cousin on New Years Day evening. You know how people sometimes say, "Live in the present, not the past"? Obviously, we all understand what the intent of the proverb is: "Live in the now, don't worry about the future, what's done is done, live each day, blah, blah, blah..." But, his take was just as valid. For the purposes of this RTFAFN, and knowing most of the people who would read this, I'll assume your past just isn't that bad. Overall, you've had a pretty good life, right? Sure, there were the money issues and the overdue credit cards and the breakups and the fights and the unwanted pregnancies and the car accident and the pastor who touched you and the poor grades and your presidential election/gun law/Prop 8/marijuana law that may not have gone your way and your mother never loved you and you got laid off and the estranged sister you never talk to and your girlfriend cheated on you and the (insert sports team) lost the (insert sports teams championship game) and Hostess went out of business and the divorce and Pluto isn't a planet anymore and the illness and the deaths and the... wait... I lost my train of thought. Oh, yeah... What my cousin said that flies in the face of that previously stated proverb is, unless your past just sucks to hell, what's wrong with living in the past? We are all a product of our past - our past experiences, our families and friends who have come and gone, the people we have loved, even the people who have angered us and caused us great sorrow and pain. We are the sum of our up-bringing, be it good or bad. And, we live today as an amalgamation of all those parts. It's a hell of a lot longer than the present. You can look back at it and see all that you have accomplished. You can see the children you've raised and the home you've built. In a much more materialistic sense, you can see the car, the house, the latest iWhatever, the shoes, and all the other cool stuff you've bought. And, you have evidence in the form of pictures, videos and memories. Additionally, there is no planning for the past. It's set and solid and done with no potential changes, unlike your fickle future.
Now, my cousin wasn't trying to be overly philosophical. His perspective was that people cannot live in the present, as the present is very fleeting. The present lasts a mere nanosecond and then it's gone. I mean, what can you get done in a nanosecond? Well, nothing you want to brag about. Blink? Breathe? Whoopee. Both are involuntary and will continue until you die. A math problem? No. Fall in love? Against what other people may say - no. It took me a few dates. Sex? NO. (More like 9 minutes. And, I'm over-exaggerating). Point is, to literally live in the present is difficult. And, to do so philosophically is not that much easier. Life is hard and we all got a lot of shit going on.
You can't live for the future either, because you absolutely have no idea what the future holds and you can't predict it. Sure, you can make some educated guesses: I'll get up and go to work tomorrow; that dick in the yellow Ferrari is going to take up two parking spaces forcing me to park on the roof; Jason in Accounting is going to steal my Lean Cuisine from the fridge AGAIN; that hot girl will wink at me like she does everyday just before she asks me to do her work for her; I'll do the hot girl's work for her; I'll go home late and have some form of breakfast cereal for dinner. Yes, all very probable. But, we all know that one corporate restructure, one car accident, one little pregnancy test can put a wrinkle in your day. So, sure, use your educated guesses to feel safe about your next steps (hide the Lean Cuisine and stop at the store on the way home for one of those roasted chickens under the heat lamps) but, know that at any point, the best laid plans for the future can drastically change through no fault of your own. Some would say that God has a plan and we are just along for the ride. I have no idea if that's true. All I know is, if God does have a plan, I'd like to see the blue print. I'd love to see it plotted out in Microsoft Project. I'd like to have a weekly executive meeting with all the department heads (health, accounting, life designer, marketing and PR, IT, human resources) and discuss milestone achievements and risk assessment and determine how we are going to get to the end game. Maybe come up with a Plan B contingency, should God's first plan not do well in focus groups.
On Facebook, like many of you, I've collected a wealth of rich and interesting relationships. I have friends who I've known for the better part of 35 or 40 years (one girl with whom I went to nursery school). I also have friends from PS 26 elementary school, Walt Whitman JHS, Roosevelt High School, Mercy College, various jobs I've held in New York and here in California, people I've met at parties and, of course, nearby and distant family members. I feel incredibly blessed to have an amazing family who, year after year, get closer as we deal with sickness, the loss of loved ones, promotions, graduations, the beauty of newborns and marriage. So, with that, I thank all of my friends, all of my family, my beautiful wife and all of the surrounding elements that may not have always been very kind to me. Through my daily interactions with them, they help shape the person I am today. So, this is their fault. :-) I'm not the perfect person, but who among us is? However, I think I am a good and decent person. And, I think my friends and my family are all good and decent people. And, much of that has to do with where they came from.
Wishing you all and very Happy New Year.