Recent awesome conversations have prompted me to contemplate how much time I spend focused on the future or reflecting on the past. The answer is, a fuckload. It’s a human thing – we fantasise about what lies ahead and over-analyse what has already taken place. But it means we rarely find ourselves fully in the moment.
There’s nothing ostensibly wrong with having ideas about how we want things to go. I usually like to have a game plan that extends 2-5 years into the future. Sometimes it’s really specific, others it’s nothing more than ‘be alive, live somewhere pretty’. Until a few months ago, it was to spend this year settling the fuck down in Portugal. But then, like John Lennon said, Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.
In these moments we have a choice. Maybe we stick to the plans we originally made, because we’ve had them for so long, or told so many people, or feel like we’ve invested too much of ourselves into them to deviate now.
We try to control life as if it were a river: we dam it and reroute it according to our fears and desires. When life offers an option we hadn’t expected, it feels like a natural disaster. We consult our spreadsheet, crosscheck the correspondence, conclude that this was NOT part of the plan and, writing it off, resume our neatly controlled lives.
Or, we take a deep breath and follow the flow.
My spreadsheet for 2017 had me sticking some serious roots down in Portugal, teaching a couple of retreats and expanding the language / writing side of my career. Life, as it has done before, intervened with a scarier option: base myself in Amsterdam and continue, for a while, this phase of extensive travel I’ve been in since leaving Morocco 18 months ago.
Obviously, I am taking this option.
I still have some specific career objectives, and goals for my meditation and yoga practice. I have personal goals in terms of friendships, family relationships and the relationship I have with myself. And I have confidence – more than that, I have evidence, right now – that these risks I keep being invited to take are leading me not only to a bright future, but to a pretty stellar present.