The other week I went to the cinema with a friend of mine who likes to talk a lot. It was the middle of a week day, when most people were at work, so the cinema was deserted and we had the whole place to ourselves.
Did I mention that my friend likes to talk a lot? Oh, good.
As the film started, my friend started to talk a lot. I say started, but really she had not stopped, it was more just a change of subject. She started to ask me questions about the movie. What do you think is going to happen next? Do you think he is going to get killed? Do you think she is a goody or a baddy? Do you think they will get together? What do you think is going to happen in the end?
After a while, I picked myself up and my popcorn and I moved to a seat at the other side of the theatre. My friend looked at me with a face of total innocence, wondering what the matter was, then she looked around for someone else to talk to, eventually turning on her mobile phone, against the advice of the pre-movie trailer, and starting to text someone.
Why am I telling you this? Is it a condemnation of people who like to talk a lot? Ah, no. That is just a bit of jolly fun. I am telling you because this reminds me of how mind usually works.
When we listen to thought, it continually takes us into the future. What is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, next year. Where am I going? What is going to happen? Will I be OK? She says she loves me now but will she love me next year? Future future future.
What is the problem with this?
Just like in the movie theatre, this incessant distraction prevents you from experiencing life as it actually happens, now. Mind is so obsessed with what is going to happen that it often totally misses what actually IS happening. Just like I could not concentrate on what was happening in the movie as it happened because of the constant chatter in my ear about what was going to happen next.
If I had allowed that to continue, the chances are I would have missed the whole movie. Maybe I would have still got the general gist of it, but I certainly would have missed the wonderful detail that the writers, the actors, the director, the cinematographer, the costume designer and the score composer used their wonderful creativity to produce.
That is what happens when we spend our lives in our minds. We miss the intricate wonder of life as it is happening right now. We aren't even paying attention. Days go by and we miss them, lost in mind, thinking about what is going to happen, missing completely what is happening. Great chunks of life simply missed.
Maybe it is time to stop listening to that incessant voice in the ear.
"I am neither a pessimist nor an optimist. I simply don't bother with the future at all. Life is NOW!"
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