I woke up with a start at around 0130 this morning with this exact thought running through my head:
The trouble is that you think you have time. Once I slowed my racing thoughts I got up out of bed and looked this quote up to see if there was anything under the surface of this saying aside from it's surface level sense of urgency.
If you tend to believe what the old interwebs say then Buddha never said this and this quote came from a a book that was bought for me by and old ex-girlfriend called "Buddha's Little Instruction Book". It simply is an interpretation of Buddhist texts. Fair enough. Now that I got that out of the way what does it mean to me in the present moment?!
At first glimpse I take it as a call to arms so to speak, giving me a sense of urgency to get shit done cause simply I'm running out of time. Which if taken that way can easily lead to middle of the night insomnia induced blog entries, this present entry being a very literal prime example.
I could sit here and make a list of things that I need to get done and by heavens I'd get that shit done with a bow on top with a marching band behind it. It's easy for me to do because I am a task oriented kind of guy, try me write something down on a piece of paper and give it to me. I'll screw myself up sideways to get it done. I know this about myself, if you've ever seen my study desk then you would see a near insane amount of post its/sticky notes all over that area telling me to do shit. I'm awful about it on tests, holy smokes I have 100 questions my brain says "bro, let's go...go...go" Speed in such situations leads to mistakes, which in my case can lead to a failed test and a ruined career path or in an extreme case a patient's condition getting worse. Both dire circumstances, so every 10 questions I stop and take 10 deep breaths with my eyes closed.
No, I'm not getting off topic. So this sense of urgency that evolves from "The trouble is that you think you have time" can be useful to motivate oneself to get up out of the chair and get things done. Which makes at least for me a sense of living in the future and not being in the present. Which directly conflicts with a very important outlook on in life that I read several times over in one of my favorite all time books "Deep Survival" by Laurence Gonzales.
I have read this book cover to cover several times. I tear through it as though my life depends on it (and one day it might) In fact I plan on reading it AGAIN over the summer break. Gonzales also wrote another superb book called "Surviving Survival" if you know me and know a bit about this book then you get a very deep insight on what makes me tick. There were times when I first read "Surviving Survival" and had to put it down and walk away from it for a day, that book struck a nerve.
I digress though.
Gonzales says in "Deep Survival" and in "Surviving Survival" one of the rules of life is to 'Be here now' it's a very Buddhist kind of thinking and nearly Zen in it's context to me at least. It's simply finding wonder in the world around you. Which is hard to do when you're stuck in a damn classroom or cracking the books again after your fourth study break for the day. I now know I did not do that yesterday. I wasn't in the present, I was too damn busy beating the future into submission, getting shit done. 'Be here now' is a corner stone in his books and damn important to remember.
I honestly need to get 'Be here now' tattooed on me someplace simply to remind myself that hey bro be kind to yourself and slow my roll down.
'The trouble is that you think you have enough time' goes hand in hand with a fave quote of Leonard Bernstein 'To achieve great things two things are needed, a plan and not enough time' That quote is so important to me I have it affixed to my study desk. Again a call to arms to get shit done now with a sense of urgency. Which is great during the semester and makes me want to get a lot done during the breaks the problem is though it's a very American way of thinking and denies me a simple pleasure of life of being in the moment 'Be here now' which is counter to a corner stone of survival. I could chase my tail all night with this train of thought.
I can't keep up a frenetic pace all the time, it's just not possible without a slew of other problems asserting themselves in the present. Yeah, making lists and getting shit done is important I just need to remember to stop what I am doing and slow it down and take moment to look and see and not through my life. There may not be enough hours in the day, I cannot possibly get it all done. So I'll push the stacks aside for awhile and enjoy that one moment. Because after all if I make it to where I am sitting on my mountain home porch I'm not going to say 'Man, I got a lot of shit done in my life' I'm gonna say "I remember that day on the trail where I sat and watched the sun cross the sky." or the day that was so perfect with a person I cared for. That's what matters, getting tasks done will happen. Life will happen despite those same tasks. It makes sense to me, I hope it makes sense to someone else too.
Thanks for reading.