Being Present is Starting to Feel Like an Excuse to Not Have to Face Disappointment

In the future I can see a blond-haired, nonjudgmental goddess stopping by to tease and offer me friendship and the occasional intimate invitation.

I’ll spend most of my time in my head, alone and inside the house like I always have. Though I can see myself tending to an herb garden just outside my screen door, a Buddha statue sitting unenthusiastically in the rosemary to remind me not to take both humor or myself too seriously.

I’ll be wearing a soft-brimmed hat the way my grandfather did, in order to protect my bald head from the sun. And there’ll be a shed nearby for storing rakes and planting things to make my herbal corner of the world look like a painting.

I’ll pretty much live in a white t-shirt and tan khakis. I’ll drink coffee, eat lots of fruit, sit in a lawn chair and watch the cars go by from my fenced-in oasis.

And there I’ll sit half in the shade, while I think of how I balanced my life in an under-respected career of working with emotionally disabled children, with being an equally under-respected poet, occasionally shooshing the squirrel off the feeder the way my grandmother did.

There’ll be little retirement money if any. I’ll just barely get by on social security with the help of some dwindling social supports. I’ll be renting a room with a porch and a little lawn space to stand and turn around in at a cape in the suburbs.

Any further education will be limited to me becoming the everyday thing I am observing, immersing myself into my random subjects the way I always did. I’ll watch the beetles on the pavement hug the edge until they disappear into the grass, refill my iced tea from a pitcher resting on a small round table, and when the sun starts to go down, I’ll retreat inside to my desk on the porch and write for an hour or two, more or less, occasionally staring absent-mindedly out into the fading light of the neighborhood, until I’ll have to turn a light on to do anything.

I can see myself making birdfeeders as a hobby, maybe giving my beautiful creations away to families in the community who could use one, whether they think they could or not. Ironically, I’ll want everyone to love and immerse themselves in something they do every day, more than they could ever love and immerse themselves in me.

In my own small way I suppose, and through modeling the kind of minimalist lifestyle I’d like to see more of in the world, I’ll continue to encourage others to not just generate their own version of a life, but to lose themselves in it and become it. This, I know, will also be my way of reminding myself of what is most important to me.

Lately, though, I’ve been wondering about whether or not I should even be thinking about this kind of future I’d like to see for myself, since it’s a line of thinking I prefer to let go of on most days, each time I tell myself it’s being present and accepting where I’m at moment to moment that has brought me the most happiness.

Because the truth is being present is starting to feel like an excuse to not have to face disappointment and experience rejection again, and I’ve learned when something good starts to feel like something that’s holding me back, it’s sometimes best to let go of the good thing and come up with a way to re-envision what was previously a so-called bad thing.

This sometimes means counterintuitively doing something that feels self-destructive, and in this case fantasizing about an ideal future.

What I do know is, 40 years ago, when I was 8, I saw myself designing modest ecosystems for sustainability and a deep ecology-like coexistence with birds and plants. So, really not much has changed in the vision department, except for perhaps the idea that what I do and what I’ve always done needed to be large and lucrative when I was young, and now can just become a small routine perhaps just myself and few other beings will think to visit.

So, about your future, dear, eventually, if you’re lucky, your huge dreams will start to feel the same way they’ve always felt, I believe. You’ll just realize they were always in a process of becoming a little smaller and more affordable than you previously thought. One day you’ll be there just as fully as you ever were, and the next you’ll be lost in the grass.

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