Friday, September 21, 2007

How So Many People Screw Up Their Lives

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One day at a time- this is enough. Do not look back and grieve over the past, for it is gone; and do not be troubled about the future, for it has not yet come. Live in the present, and make it so beautiful that it will be worth remembering.
- Ida Scott Taylor, author

While this sounds like an advertisement for existentialism or nihilism, it was not intended that way. Mrs. Taylor is concerned that so many people dwell on the hurts of the past or work so hard for benefits in the future that they miss living today.

If you are not one of those, how fortunate you are.

Carrying around the hurts of your past is literally like carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. It's the weight of your world, a world that no longer exists. The rest of humanity has moved on. Most never knew about your problem in the first place and don't care about it now. Whoever hurt you very likely is not suffering in the slightest.

Then there are the workaholics who invest their lives in a future they seldom accept has arrived. They become so accustomed to working continuously that they can't break out of the habit. For them, the future they work so hard to achieve never arrives. What they manage to do is to spend some of the money they have accumulated to buy ostentatious toys and decorations for themselves and for those who will be generous enough to show their love and admiration for them.

Almost inevitably, these people raise children who follow the same habits and hold the same values as theirs. Kids tend to become like their parents because their parents are usually the only full role models they have to follow.

In the Canadian province where I live, I drive past many properties whose main feature outside of the houses is grass. How beautiful and aromatic is the scent of grass? It's a weed that has been selected by rich people who own mansions as a way to cover endless amounts of land without bothering with flowers, decorative shrubs or trees.

We have parks filled with grass, most of which have signs telling people to stay off it. Heaven forbid the most boring plant on the face of the planet should die under the footsteps of people enjoying themselves with some form of entertainment other than admiring their lawns or cutting them.

People, kids and adults alike, are much more likely to find creative things to do on dirt than on grass. Grass is--at least to those of us who live in North America--the ultimate way to beautifying property.

Grass is not for living today but for having neighbours and family admire it. In fact, nobody cares about anyone's grass but their own. But we don't acknowledge that hypocrisy.

How can you live today? I don't want to answer that question for you. For many people living for today means shopping.

No one ever got to heaven by shopping. I can't say that for certain, but it seems like a safe guess. Shopping is perceived as "fun" by those who have been brainwashed by industries--primarily in the fashion and cosmetics fields--whose very existence is based on selling people stuff they don't need.

Those who spend time working in their gardens, hiking in the wilderness or trying to accomplish something no one has done before know how to live for today. Just working to improve yourself so that you are better at something than you used to be is a way of living for today.

Remember this: to live for today we don't need to spend our money, we need to invest our time wisely.

Money is not the treasure. Time is our only treasure. The only time we know anything about for certain is now.

If this means something to you, you have just invested your last few minutes wisely.

Congratulations! Now move on.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a book about how to invest your time with your children and grandchildren wisely, in ways they will appreciate and remember for the rest of their own lives.
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