I’ve noticed something. It applies to jobs, relationships, friendships, haircuts even. This is my theory on The Lie of Now.
We already know the past is deceiving, that we shouldn’t rely entirely on memory. Childhood friends; prom; your first kiss; the taste of betrayal when you got a full house the time your brother taught you to play poker, but he hadn’t said he could fold if you’d yell from excitement, which of course you did because you didn’t know he could fold. I didn’t forget Sid.
Memories appear as either more or less important, more bitter, or way sweeter than they actually were. By definition, they’re just… memories. Fleeting.
You’ve probably had to learn the hard way not to rely much on or nostalgia for decision making. After leaving their abusers, victims still miss them sometimes. A victim makes roughly seven attempts to leave before they do for the last time. Emotions aren’t to be trusted when recounting the past and deciding what you should do.
That was a long intro. Back to the thing I’ve noticed, The Lie of Now.
We need to stop living in the present.
We were told to live in the moment and to enjoy it. What we heard: You must enjoy the present. You must have a good time.
Anything is manageable if it isn’t forever.
Bring to mind the last time you felt frustrated. Would you continue being part of that situation if you knew it would never change? I wouldn’t, for many things that come to mind. Would you forgive some of the things you have if you knew they’d go on forever? Me neither.
Trying to make sense of shitty behavior is H-A-R-D.
That’s why we focus on the positive and accept living on emotional breadcrumbs.
It could be worse, right? Nobody’s perfect, right?
“Someone in the movement said, ‘It’s not about learned helplessness, it’s about learned hopefulness,’ ” she says. “And I think there’s a lot of truth to that. There’s a kind of resilience that allows you to think, I can manage this. He keeps saying he’ll change, and he is changing, he’s gotten a little better. So the hope keeps you in it.”Larissa MacFarquhar, The Radical Transformations of a Battered Women’s Shelter on The New Yorker
We stay in shitty relationships, toxic friendships, jobs that aren’t right for us because of the deceitful nature of the present. Because of our optimistic, glass-half-full attitude.
“When you look at someone through rose-colored glasses, all the red flags just look like flags.” From The New Yorker to Bojack Horseman real quick, from “happily in love” to “how did I miss all of this?!?!?” real quick.
How to stop living on emotional breadcrumbs?
The closest thing to a solution I can offer is time.
Time away from your perceived source of stress.
Time apart shows you whether you’re coming from a place of learned hopefulness or not. It helps you take off those rose-colored glasses.
Lack of common sense doesn’t look good on anyone.
I’m all for living in the present. Hell, I meditate every day to make sure I live in the present as much as possible. No matter what we want to believe, we can’t change what’s real.
Shit’s still shit with rose-colored glasses on.
We can’t change the past, and we can’t control the future. Now is all we have, “the envy of the dead.”
Anything is manageable if it doesn’t last forever. But what if it is forever? What if you’re only living in the present with the hope that the future will bring something better, something different? What if you want to live a life that isn’t just manageable?