I’ve naturally been thinking a lot these last few weeks about my future. About the things that I want to learn. About the kinds of things that I want to do. About doing things that matter.
However, the perspective I’ve gained from all that thinking about the future is that I need to do a lot less of it.
I have spent most of my life, maybe all of my adult life thinking about the future. Thinking about “the next.” The “what I want to do when” kinds of things. Constantly thinking about what all of the possibilities of the outcomes from my own actions or those around me are going to be.
Even in the most pedestrian of things – like walks with my dogs, I’m still thinking of “next”. I’m not thinking about the walk, I’m not stopping to enjoy the weather or the trees or the things along the road. I’m thinking about that email that I’m going to send, or whatever thing I might do when the walk is done. As such there’s little joy and happiness in the moment, because I’m always thinking about what I’m going to do when the moment is over.
And it’s not like it’s all that productive or preparatory — I will spend time thinking about what I want to do or what I should be doing, or what the best thing to do next is, so much that sometimes I fail to do anything. I like to make fun of the bureaucratic tendency in organizations that “plan to plan” — but I’m not sure on a personal level that I’m all that different.
I do this so much so that I’ve forgotten, if I ever knew how to begin with, to live in the here and the now. It’s all thinking about doing without any regard to being.
I’m not sure how to fix that, other than paradoxically (for me) not trying to think about how to fix it.
My title comes from some of the yak shaving that accompanied this post, because something really interesting happened on that path.
In trying to find some kind of photo illustration that would hint at “capturing the moment” — I came across a night exposure I had made during December 2008 that’s at the top of this post.
There’s something interesting about trying any kind of photographic exposure of stars. Even the 15 second exposure for this image is enough time for the earth to turn just enough that it will give you just the hint of a star trail (pretty evident in the large size view ). I know it’s 15 seconds because of the EXIF data uploaded to Smugmug with the photo.
I started looking at the stars, and wondered what the reddish one was in the image — I had known before, but didn’t remember any of my stars. I was pretty sure I was looking at Orion. So I ran Stellarium — set my coordinates from google earth, set the date and time to the time the photo was taken — and I could browse exactly what that star was:
And maybe all of this is a bit of the reminder that I need. And that’s to remember that we live in incredibly amazing times. The technology we have enables things that were next to impossible to learn and explore so easily just 10 years ago. And it’s only going to get better and better. There are real problems to solve, and part of thinking about the future that’s good to do is figuring out what I can help do to solve them.
But I need to get there by learning, doing, and most importantly being — one moment at a time.