Distracted Present Tense
“Minds that are ill at ease are agitated by both hope and fear.”
Many of us commit the error in logic of assuming that if a sensation is pleasant then this means it must be good and if it’s unpleasant then it must be bad. This sort of life philosophy is hedonistic, compelling you to seek out as many pleasant experiences as possible while avoiding as many unpleasant experiences as possible.
But sensations, pleasant or unpleasant, are equally detrimental to us when we use them as distractions to keep from existing fully in the present. Ovid names the two main categories that expectations fall into, either the hope that things will go well or the fear that they will go badly. But whether you are filled with hope or riddled with fear, these expectations are nothing but unfulfilled promises and are not yet real. The only thing that can ever be real for you is your present moment, and this continuous series of present moments is what makes up the whole of your life, even if you choose to escape them by fixating on the past or the future.
A mind that is at ease is not agitated by hope or fear because it is not looking to the future; it’s completely engaged with the present moment. This mind knows that tomorrow will come in its own time. The mindful attitude does not discourage making plans, but it does remind you that this activity takes place in your present moment. The key is to stay grounded in the present while you are making your plans, and actually this increases, not decreases, the likelihood of things turning out the way you want them to, because you don’t become disconnected from the very process that makes your plans come to fruition.
There is no real way to know what tomorrow holds so letting your today be influenced by it is not only pointless but also holds you back from doing the best you can for yourself right now. If you can let go of your expectations and instead be mindful about where you are, you will find yourself feeling more at ease and more capable of confronting the challenges in front of you.