I was in my favorite watering hole, sipping my pint of beer, sitting on my green padded stool and thinking of how many good discussions I’ve had with people on these stools.
There’s something about these stools that brings out the best reflective thinking in people. I was wondering who I would talk to today and about what topic, when a chap jumped up on the stool next to me.
He was a tall, broad shouldered fellow with sharp facial features and a dark pencil line moustache. He was about mid 50 ish in age. He ordered a G and T.
“Nice day today,” I said, in my best congenial voice.
He squinted at me and said in a gruff voice:
“I hadn’t noticed.”
“You sound like you have a problem.”
“Hey mister, what are you, the local psychiatrist?”
“No, just trying to pass the time of day,” I whispered. I was hoping he would simmer down.
“If you must know, one of my friends told me I’m so immersed in the past and future that I can’t be content and live in the present where I should be. He said the present was the most important place to live and I should forget about the past and future. What do you think about that?”
I sipped my beer and thought for a minute.
“Nothing to say, mister psychiatrist?”
“I’ve got plenty to say, but will you listen?”
He looked at me long and hard, then he made a gesture like he was zipping up his mouth.
“We all spend time in all three of those time zones. Granted, our consciousness and Now reality are in the present. By the way, how is your present?”
“Not good! I’m in a dead end job, my partner is threatening to leave me, and my health is starting to fail.”
“What is your name , my friend, mine is Dave.”
“Okay Tom, lets lay down some facts to disperse the illusion that only the present is important.”
“Do you really think you can help me?”
“Well, I can give you some info to mull over that might help.”
“Okay Dave, lets get started. I’m all ears.”
I took a deep breath and began:
“It’s an illusion that you must be in the present constantly. The past has a great influence on your present behavior. Having a future is a need that is essential for your morale in the present. If you have no hopes for the future your present collapses.”
“So, when I was told to stop thinking about the past and future, that was wrong?” Tom looked confused.
“That’s right, Tom, you must NOT suppress those two times, if you do, you will get depressed.”
“Oh boy, carry on, Dave.”
“The current thinking is that action and accomplishment make the present enjoyable as possible. And the future will become the present, so you have to make the present good to enjoy the future. So, with this thinking the present is the most important time because it is your reality and a time to prepare for a future reality. As far as thinking about the past, it is useless.”
“But Dave, I’ve always enjoyed thinking about the good times in the past,” said Tom, quizzically.
“Nothing wrong with that, Tom, if your past was good it provides an enjoyable experience to reminisce about.”
“But now, Dave, my present and future is bleak so I live in the past. I don’t have much hope that will change.”
“That’s too bad, hope is a NEED in itself. You need to have some hope in order to have some present morale. Cut away the future and the present collapses.”
“I wish I could regain some hope,” said Tom, sadly.
“I wish you could, too. Let me tell you what hope does for you. Hope motivates you to carry on with life. Hope maintains morale, that’s the level of a person’s confidence and enthusiasm at a particular time. A person without hope is a person without a future. Hope is an energizer. It maintains your immune system.
But hope is also a mixed blessing, it can be a big letdown especially if it is false hope. You look forward to something and it nevercopes.”
“But Dave, I’m depressed, I don’t see any improvement in my present. I feel time is running out for any dreams that I had. I walk around in an aura of hopelessness! My health is fading, my legs are weak.”
“Wow Tom, that’s quite a list of dejection.”
“You’re not telling me anything I don’t know. You say hopelessness leads into depression, what next?’
“Your saviour might be resignation, it’s less toxic.”
“You mean shut down and accept my predicament?’
“It’s better than wasting away pining over lost hope.”
Tom was staring into space with a grim look on his face.
“What you’re suffering from is Need Frustration due to life losses.”
“Come again,” said Tom, dejectedly.
“Need Frustration is losing health, being in a job you don’t like, being lonely, aging, etc.
You’re depressed because you are on the cusp of aging, diminished attractiveness, diminished mobility, diminished abilities, all these are close to arriving and this brings on frustration.”
“What can I do, Dave?”
“Appreciate what life you have left. Be glad you’re alive. Accept that time moves on and live as enjoyably as you can knowing that life is short. I’ll leave you with something I read on a tombstone:
Remember me as you pass by,
As you are NOW, so once was I,
As I am NOW, so you must be,
But first,enjoy what life you have left!
Tom left the building with a glint in his eye!
Also published on Medium.
Thanks, I needed that blog. It came just in time to snap me out of the unhappy feelings I have been fighting. When people ask me how I’m feeling I usually point to the nail on my left pinky finger and say “that’s the only part of me that doesn’t hurt”. But that’s not really true, it’s just funny. I will think only good thoughts today and look forward to tomorrow. If I make everything good today, tomorrow will take care of itself.