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Why It Is So Hard to Live in the Present

Tomas Pichardo Espaillat | 4:30


Very many of us suffer from a peculiar sounding problem, an inability properly to inhabit the stretch of time we call the present. Maybe we're on a beautiful beach on a sunny day. The skies as you are, and the palm trees slender and implausibly delicate, but most of us isn't actually here at all. It's somewhere at work or in imaginary discussion with arrival or plotting a new enterprise.

Or maybe we're at the birthday of a child. It's enormously significant for her, and we love her dearly, but we are elsewhere. Our body is rooted in the now, but our minds are skipping to points in both the future and the past. What is it that makes the present, especially the nicer moments of the present, so difficult to experience properly and why?

Conversely, can so many events feel easier to enjoy, appreciate, and perceive when they're firmly over. One benefit of the past is that it is a dramatically for shortened edited version of the present. Even the best days of our lives contain a range of dull or uncomfortable moments, but in memory, like skilled editors of hours of raw and often uninspired footage, we can lock onto the most consequential moments and therefore construct sequences that feel a great deal, more meaningful and interesting than the setting.

That generated them hours of mediocrity can be reduced to five or six perfect images. Nostalgia is the present enhanced by an editing machine. Much of what ruins the present is sheer anxiety. The present always contains an enormous number of possibilities. Some hugely gruesome, which we are constantly aware of.

Anything could theoretically happen. An earthquake and aneurysm of rejection, which gives rise to a non-specific anxiety that trails around us most of the time. The simple dread at the unknown of what is. But then of course, only a very limited range of awful things do ever come to pass. And we forget the anxiety at once or rather shift it to the new present.

So when we remember an event, what we leave out of it is how much of that event we actually spent anticipating an appalling future that never came. Our bodies further contributes to our distraction from the present. They have their own moods and itineraries. They might feel tired and timid at just the moment when the landscape around us would demand grand urine confidence.

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