I’m in class counting the seconds. On Thursday night, I’m dreaming of the weekend, telling myself things will be so much better after I run like hell from my last class Friday. Stuck halfway through the semester and facing my third exam of the week, I find myself saying out loud that I wish it could be Christmas already, my friends jumping to echo the sentiment.
Is it even possible to live in the moment, when every free second has to be spent preparing for tomorrow? A part of me knows that by the time senior year rolls around, I’ll wish to stay in college forever, but by then it’ll be far too late. For that reason we should strive to live in the now, otherwise we will always be waiting for a tomorrow just out of reach.
Every single day at BC we are secretly (or not so secretly) hoping for something. The hope of an A on our next midterm, an internship that we can brag about, and more accomplishments to add to our resume motivate us. In our efforts to attain these things, we take on so many commitments to the point where it is a chore to participate.
Shouldn’t it be seen as sad that skipping obligations comes as a relief, not a disappointment? These are things we volunteer to do, but grumble about. We made these commitments with the promise of rewards, the promise of another skill to add to our LinkedIn page, another year of experience. The scary thing is that commitments like these aren’t going to go away. We will always have something else to work for, another goal to achieve.
Days start to blend together when we live our lives this way. Already, it seems as if high school was a blur. Four years of preparing for college culminated in four more years of preparing, this time for our future. Without focusing on the present, the world around us becomes fuzzy and out of focus. Obligations are blindly attended, work is hurriedly done, and we are always looking ahead.
It’s obvious why we act this way. We’re compelled to work hard now so we can land our dream jobs later. We think money, big houses, and nice cars will make us happy. I can’t argue that those things make people sad, but they have rarely been found to be the key to happiness. It’s no secret that what actually makes us happy are the people we keep close and the work we chose to do.
Odds are, you’re not a Buddhist. You likely haven’t entered a new realm of spiritual existence and moved past being chained to your desires. But in recent years there’s been a push towards mindfulness, one that everyone can benefit from. One of the key testaments of this trend is that we should all notice when we’re happy and fully appreciate the peace that brings us.
Life isn’t about working until the work is done. We need to be able to find the golden moments of time in between commitments, and learn how to savor the things we truly enjoy.
An old Zen saying from an anonymous source suggests that, “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day; unless you are too busy, then you should sit for an hour.” At first that seems like a daunting challenge to anyone, but it’s important to remember that things never seem as bad with reflection. If meditation is the only way to remind yourself that the life you’re living is a good one, then so be it. Sit down for the time you can spare, and instead of thinking about where you’re going, remember to be grateful for where you are.