A few years ago I was counseling a couple on the brink of divorce. In a private session with the husband, he related to me that the key problem was his wife’s inability to forgive. To illustrate his point, he related to me an event, which as it turned out, happened twenty years ago. I told him, “She might not be able to forgive, but you can’t forget.”
Then, in a private session with the wife, she related to me that the key problem was her husband’s inability to apologize. To illustrate her point, she related to me the same event as her husband from twenty years ago.
Not only do we often live in the past and obsess over what no longer is, but we also waste our time by worrying over the future. How many times do we eat a delicious meal without enjoying even one bite because we are lost in our thoughts about what will be tomorrow? We can be so addicted to thinking about the future that when the future is finally present, we will be absent because we will already be obsessing about what comes next.
How can we stop living in our fantasies of the future or in our memories of the past and start living in the now? The past and the future do not exist. They are merely mental abstractions of our minds. Only the now is real. Only the now is alive. Our life is only happening right now. We can only live our lives in the present. And when we live fully in the now we infuse life into our living. To truly be alive we need to be fully present in the now.
The Torah tells us that the matriarch Sarah lived for 127 years. But the wording is very strange. It literally reads, “And the life of Sarah was 127 years; these were the years of the life of Sarah.”1 Why this odd repetition?
The sages explain that the years of Sarah’s life equaled the years that she actually lived. In other words, a person may die at age 127 and even though her life lasted 127 years, she did not live 127 years. She may have only lived ten years of her life and wasted the rest. Some people live a long life but not a full life. Sarah lived a long and full life. The number of years she lived equaled the number of years of her life.
Most of us live fractured lives. We might be here, but our minds are over there; our bodies are in the present, but our minds are in the past or the future. We need to give our undivided attention to the present because this is when life is happening—right here and right now. Now yourself and gift yourself the present.