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The self-help admonition to live in the Moment, in the Now which carries its own wisdom and responsibilities, requires us to understand how our past (our Befores) make us who we are, and that who we are now determines who we will become (our Afters).
The Now is about presence, mindfulness and choices that are made in the moment. Every word I write is written Now and immediately becomes part of my history. Every Now is life happening. Each Now, whether we are aware of it or not, moves us out of Before toward After.
Every moment of our lives adds up to who we are. How we spend the significant ones shapes our history and will become a part of who we are tomorrow, next week and next year. Change any of those and in this Now we and our lives might be somehow different.
In our humanness when we focus on the Now we tend to ignore, deny and often bury our mistakes and regrets. But when we bury any part of our Befores, it is buried alive. Every one of those lurks somewhere in the Now of us, despite such efforts.
Everyone’s story is a unique saga. To own that story, all of it, and to accept and embrace the humanness it reveals about us, impacts the truth of every Now. Our Befores can never be changed or undone. They are what got us here.
The Now constantly moves forward even when we’re feeling stuck. Before is already history while After is about possibilities and consequences. While the Now’s focus is usually on the moment, it has one foot in the past and the other lifted to step into the future. Our Afters are filled with life’s surprises, aka change, keeping us curious and energized.
Eckhart Tolle, a spiritual guide and philosopher, wrote, “The eternal present is the space within which your whole life unfolds, the one factor that remains constant. Life is now. There was never a time when your life was not now, nor will there ever be.” In the Now, he says, is where he finally found himself and discovered the energies of life. That Now came out of his Befores and inspired him into his Afters.
Our Befores are the classroom in which we can learn about life and ourselves. Our Now, if we learn our lessons well, can help us to move wisely into our Afters, mindful that living in the Now has its responsibilities, wanting the truth of our past — all of it, and seeking the best of us.
While living in the Moment, it’s important to remember our Nows would be nothings without our Befores and aimless without our Afters.