As most people, I sometimes find myself waiting for something to happen in the future. Right now, I notice I am mentally waiting for the vaccine so my life can open up a bit.
There is nothing inherently wrong here. But if this waiting or expectation is taking away from what’s here now, it’s worth looking at it.
Noticing what’s here
What happens if I notice it’s all happening mentally? That this is an image about the future that I invest expectations into?
What happens if I notice that these images of the future are images? That I cannot find the future or what these images refer to outside of these images?
What happens if I notice that I cannot know what will happen? That I cannot know the extent my future now will resemble these images?
What happens if I notice that these images happen here now? That what’s here – in all my sense fields – is all I have? That all my memories and my images about the future happen here and now?
Exploring what’s fascinating about these images
Why do I invest energy into some of these images about the future? Why do I invest energy into this particular image of my post-vaccine life?
What I notice here and now is a discomfort in me that was here when I woke up. It’s a slight anxiety and physical discomfort. These images of my post-vaccine life give me a small distraction from this discomfort, and it brings me in touch with a bit of extra joy and excitement.
Again, there is nothing inherently wrong with this. But it is good to notice what’s happening and that I am moving away from the discomfort.
How would it be to say YES to what’s here? The slight anxiety and discomfort? How is it to be here with what’s happening, as it is, as a friend or parent?
If I explore this further, I may find underlying assumptions, identities, and painful beliefs. For instance, that I am not good enough, I am unloved, I am unlovable, or something similar.
Some additional questions that can be helpful in exploring these dynamics: What do I hope will happen if what I am looking forward to happens? What do I fear will happen if it doesn’t happen? What’s my earliest memory of having similar images about the future? If this sensation could speak, what would it tell me?
Waiting for my life to start
If we wait for something to happen in the future and invest it with a lot of energy, hope, and attention, we can get a sense of waiting for our life to start.
“My life will start when I get the vaccine. My life will start sometime in the future, when things are different.”
If this happens, it’s especially useful to examine what’s going on.
Is it true that this, here now, isn’t my life? Is it true that my life will start in the future? Does my future life even exist? Can I find it outside of my images?
The downsides of investing too much into these images about the future
There are some downsides to investing too much energy into these images about the future, and relying on these images to feel better about myself and my life.
An obvious one is that it may not happen as I envisioned it. If I invest too much into them, I set myself up for disappointment.
If I invest too much into a particular set of images, I may get fixated on one possible future and overlook all the other options and possibilities. I can limit myself too much and miss out on other paths that may be as good or better, or at least the best possible considering the situation.
Also, I miss out on what’s here. I miss out on the juiciness, richness, and fullness of what’s here. I distract myself through these images and, in a sense, leave myself. I become a distracted friend or parent to myself.
The upside of these images about the future
We depend on our images of the past, future, and present to function in the world.
When I have these images of my post-vaccine life, I am trying out different possibilities in my mind. I make a plan to get vaccinated as soon as possible, and I can also explore some plans for my life after. This is very useful.
I mentally try out possibilities and find the ones that resonate the most with me and work towards them.
A pragmatic approach
At the same time, there is no need to invest these images with too much energy or constant attention. I explore possible futures. Make some plans. And can notice that these are images happening here and now, and that all I have is what’s here now.
This helps me come home to the fullness of what’s here now, even if not all of it is what my personality likes. And somehow, that’s more fulfilling. It’s more real.
I can have the best of both worlds. I can have these images about the past, future, and present, and use them to explore how I want to live my life. And I can notice they are happening here now along with what’s happening in all my other sense fields. I can come back to reality. I come back home.
There is nothing particularly “spiritual” about this. It’s a pragmatic approach.