The horrific natural disaster that swept over Japan and it’s humble people has been a real wake-up call for millions around the world. As we watch the turmoil and pain flash across our TV screens, suddenly our worries seem laughable, trivial nonsense. The fact our thighs are verging on the wobbly side and that we may not be able to afford that luxury holiday to the Caribbean after all, becomes at once meaningless in light of having our loved ones beside us, a roof over our head and a warm bed to snuggle up in.

Aside from the obvious and instant rousing of sympathy for our fellow human beings in distress, naturals disasters such as these have such a profound effect because they quash the assumption that too often invades western culture; that tomorrow is guaranteed, and we should always be pushing, striving and focusing on our future.

This led to me thinking back to a time last summer when I was hanging out with some friends at city bar after another long day in the office. One of my friends was whining about how much her boyfriend couldn’t stand his job, his boss was a complete———, {I’ll leave the word to your imagination}, and he had remarked that the work was as exciting as stitching his eyelids together with a rusty needle (lovely..)

‘Thing is’ she enthused, ‘If he continues earning this amount of money, he’ll be able to retire when he is fifty’

(here it is important to highlight said boyfriend was in his very early thirties).

Now as a life coach whose objective is to get people overcoming their self-imposed barriers and experiencing a life that they actually want (rather than the one they think they should have), I was not going to let this comment go by without further scrutiny…..

‘But’ I chirped. “ how do you know he’ll still be alive at fifty?”

 

Bless my friend, at this point she was struggling not to choke on her pinot grigio, but I could see a sudden realisation flicker through her heavily made-up eyes. I went on to explain:

‘I mean it’s great that he’s earning good money, but there’s no point in being totally miserable now simply to achieve something in twenty years time that may or may not ever come’

The problem with this future-orientated approach is that we start compulsive ‘logical-ising’ everything, making our choices in terms of how it will affect tomorrow, rather than how it will inspire today. My friend’s boyfriend is a prime example, but it is apparent in so many other situations such as people putting of their dreams of starting that business or taking that trip at a more convenient time in the ever expanding future- perhaps when that flat has been bought or that promotion achieved- or the one after that. The danger in thinking this way is that by letting our lives be controlled now by the possible consequences of a never promised tomorrow, we cut ourselves off from our intuition and the real authentic power inside. As a result we end up with that dull ‘empty’ feeling as we mechanically go through the motions of life.

Now I’m not saying we should never consider the future and approach everyday as though Armageddon is moments away (although that would be pretty cool to experience for a day: bungee jumps and streaking ahoy!).  I also appreciate that many of us have certain responsibilities and as much as backpacking around Thailand for a yearlong booze-athon and sunbathing jolly appeals, it simply isn’t viable when there is a young family to feed and nurture. But what I am saying is that we should open ourselves up to experience more from our simple passions.  We should step outside of our comfort zone to try that thing we have been putting off for a more ‘suitable’ time, for no other reason than it makes us feel good and alive in the here and now- because in my opinion, every single one of us could do with more of that simple joy, lightness and ease.

Living in the moment in western civilization has become a ‘barrier to overcome’, but as the modern day spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle points out ‘It is life itself’. When natural catastrophes wreak mass destruction such as in the case of Japan, it reminds us that the only thing we ever really possess for certain is this moment, right now. So I have been focusing during the past few weeks on appreciating these. Simple things become indulgent pleasures:  My morning tea and grapefruit, runs in the park, long conversations with my friends putting the world to rights. It’s funny that when we look for it, a reason to be happy is right there under our nose and tomorrow suddenly doesn’t seem so important.

 

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